Conscious consumerism- the need of the hour – The Financial Express

By Narendra Firodia
Conscious consumerism means weighing the social, environmental and economic consequences of making a purchase. A socially or environmentally conscious consumer thinks about whether the purchase is even necessary in the first place. Once they decide to buy they scan companies based on how their products impact society, right from the production to the discarding stage. A conscious buyer also looks out for the company’s work policies, the causes it supports and how well it treats its employees. Conscious buying, although prevalent for many decades, gained momentum in the post-pandemic world. The pandemic proved that we need to reboot the world and do things differently.
Sustainability, ethics, and transparency are taking centre stage with consumers today. They no longer feel pressured to support brands for delivering nothing more than just a great product, they want more making the brands more accountable for what they do. Consumers today are leaning towards businesses that use moral compasses and prioritize the environment.
Empathy is the need of the hour. Every practice that eventually affects the ecosystem needs to be assessed with a critical approach. Although the onus of conscious buying is largely on consumers, it also leads to pressure on brands that use unsavoury business practices so they change their ways. 
The pandemic raised alarm towards health and well-being, paving way for more sustainable lifestyle choices. Today there is a huge shift in buying habits and millennials are believed to be the drivers of this trend. Equipped with vast knowledge about their food and lifestyle; they are opting for sustainable labels, products made with clean ingredients, prioritizing natural and chemical-free choices. The modern consumer is very picky about the production methods, ingredients and chemicals used in what they consume. Families are now trying to inculcate clean practices with the view of passing healthy eating habits and lifestyles to their younger generation. The focus is on a holistic lifestyle that includes organic and natural products along with better workout and sleeping habits. 
In response to this shift in consumer sentiment, brands are increasingly open to sharing their data as a way to differentiate themselves amongst the heavy competition in the marketplace. Social media has also reduced the ability to conceal negative behaviour, leading to a rise in transparency. Weighing the best interests of consumers over short-term financial profits and growth adds esteem to the brand. It bolsters brand equity and differentiates a brand in the marketplace over a period of time. 
A larger population is now aware of the ill effects of mindless buying and is willing to practice greener lifestyle changes. The lack of affordable alternatives however is a big hindrance. Companies have realized this and are bringing out a range of affordable eco-friendly alternatives to products. Along with the consumers and companies, the need of the hour is for the government to step in and do its bit. Educating more and more people and making policies that support sustainability across economic strata should be a priority. With a slight push from correct economic policies, it will be easier for businesses to balance clean practices along with profits. 
With the dooming climate crisis growing steadily day by day, we collectively need to take conscious steps to curb the effects of human waste and pollution.
(The author is a Co-Founder You Care Lifestyle. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the
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