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Half of holidaymakers will pay extra to offset flight emissions

With 2023’s holiday booking season in full swing, our recent study revealed that the cost-of-living crisis is not stopping UK holidaymakers from factoring sustainability into their travel plans.

Dr Nick Baker Chief Research Officer 28/03/2023

Two-thirds (68%) of holidaymakers have either reduced the number of international flights they’ve made or are considering it – but despite the cost, nearly half (48%) have either paid extra to offset the carbon emissions of their international flights or would be willing to do so the next time they travel.

However, across all categories the cost-of-living crisis is impacting consumers’ ability and desire to buy sustainably, due to the perceived premium on buying greener products.

Almost a third of consumers (31%) say they can’t afford to buy more sustainable products and services, while a quarter (23%) need more evidence that sustainable purchases are worth the additional investment.

These proportions remain consistent across all socio-economic demographics, even amongst those with a household income higher than £60,000 a year (25% agree with both the points above).

More than half of all consumers (58%) see the cost of living as one of the three biggest issues currently facing the UK, with only one in five (20%) choosing climate change. Sustainability was not cited as the most important purchase driver across travel and transport, groceries, lifestyle, energy supply, or money management.

Notably, when it comes to everyday travel, more than half of respondents (54%) say cost is an important consideration, with carbon emissions coming dead last (only 24% rate it important).

Dr Nick Baker, chief research officer at Savanta, says: “Rising inflation is forcing UK consumers to re-evaluate their spending priorities. Looking at the disparity between discretionary and everyday spending, we might assume that there’s a guilt factor at play. People know that they are harming the planet by affording themselves the luxury of international travel and many are willing to pay a (one-off) offset given the option.

“However, the same is not true day-to-day so brands themselves need to find ways to make sustainable options the default if consumers cannot justify paying a premium. Many would like to do what’s best for the planet if they could afford to, few would miss less sustainable options if the cost difference was less pronounced.”

About Savanta’s Sustainability Segmentation

The findings come from our Sustainability Segmentation report, which analysed the views on climate change and sustainability of 5,005 UK consumers.

This report segments consumers into seven groups, based around the well-publicised ‘say-do’ gap and plotting consumers’ intentions to behave more sustainably against the real-world steps they have taken to date.

Overlaying this analysis with socio-political values and personality traits creates a holistic view of the various capabilities, motivations and opportunities of different consumers. The research found that only one of the groups, the ‘Committed Changemakers’, is currently following through on their good intentions with their purchase decisions.

Download our free report


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