The sustainability market has been steadily climbing in recent years, according to a Nielsen study, topping $128.5 billion in US sales in 2018. “Sustainably minded shoppers,” as Nielsen calls them, have influenced a 20% growth in sustainable fast-moving product sales since 2014, representing a CAGR of 3.5%. Nielsen went on to predict this segment of the market will grow between $14 and $22 billion in sales by 2021, to $142.4 billion on the conservative side and up to $150.1 billion liberally.

Sustainable products on store shelves have increased since 2014 as well, from 19.7% to 22.3%. Although conventional products still hold a majority of shelf space, Nielsen projects this share will grow to 25% by 2021.

Nearly half (48%) of consumers are willing to change their buying and consumption habits to reduce negative impact on the environment. This trend represents 75% of Millennials, 46% of Gen X and 34% of Baby Boomers. Millennials are also the generation most willing to spend more for environmentally friendly products, according to Nielsen, and most strongly believe corporations should implement programs to improve the environment.

“The generational divide in sustainability is fueled by technology,” said Sarah Schmansky, vice president of Fresh/H&W Growth and Strategy at Nielsen. “We’ve found that sustainable shoppers in the US are 67% more likely to be digitally engaged, which means they are used to having the products and knowledge they want right at their fingertips. With their devices playing a significant role in their purchase decisions, a simple and frictionless shopping experience between on and offline is critical.”

Nielsen deemed 2018 “the year of the influential sustainable consumer,” and offered insight into a future of growth for sustainable products. Of course, these insights usher another conversation among manufacturers and brands about raising the bar in terms of sustainable sourcing and corporate responsibility to keep up with increasing levels of scrutiny held by today’s sustainable-minded consumers and the technological tools helping them navigate retail shelves for environmentally friendly products.

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