The Future of Eco-Friendly Products: A Trend Analysis Report

Sustainability is serious business, especially for shoppers looking to make more eco-friendly choices. But how have their habits changed over time? Let’s take a look…

Terms like “sustainability”, “reusables” and “refill culture” are buzzwords no more. Far from being flash-in-the-pan fads and trends, concepts like this are part of the ever-increasing move towards the eco-consciousness of recent times. And shoppers are just one of the many segments whose habits are leaning more and more to this continual green streak, favouring eco-friendly products and sustainable companies over their less environmentally minded counterparts.

To find out how much the demand for sustainable products has changed, we went online to uncover the items that are proving the most popular to see what this means for the future of eco-friendly offerings. Scroll down to find out what we discovered…

How we did it

To see which items were the most favoured by shoppers, we investigated keywords across a range of eco-friendly products from a variety of different product categories. From this, we were able to highlight which were the most in-demand. We also looked at data from previous years to get a better handle on how this demand has fluctuated over time.

At the same time, we also surveyed over 500 participants to understand the British public’s attitudes and habits towards eco-conscious shopping, including the green factors that matter most to them.

Top 20 Most Searched Eco-Friendly Products

top 20 most searched eco friendly products

In what should probably come as no surprise, vegan chocolate is the UK’s most popular eco-friendly product. With 27,100 average monthly searches, plant-based choc beat the likes of vegan cake, vegan cheese, and vegan pancakes by 4,900 searches. A clear and decisive winner for those looking to indulge their sweet tooth – without the guilt.

Food & Beverage as a category dominated our top twenty, accounting for fourteen entries. Home & Garden products appeared twice, while Clothing, Footwear & Accessories, Baby & Childcare, Beauty & Personal Care/Hygiene and General Lifestyle & Other shared one apiece.

Here’s how demand for the same products has changed from May 2018 up until April 2022:

Demand across all eco-friendly products reached its peak in January 2020, just before the pandemic took hold of the country. And while this peak has yet to return, things are far steadier than they were pre-pandemic. There are still notable peaks across this time frame, however, generally at the start of the year when people decide to give Veganuary a go.

eco friendly keywords demand chart

Most Searched Eco-Friendly Product Per Product Category

eco friendly animal products

Animal & Pet Care

Across the Animal & Pet Care category, ‘vegan dog food’ was far and away the most in-demand product, with 2,400 average monthly searches. Unusually, the product went through several recurring peaks and troughs over the course of the year, though once again, searches for the product are at their highest right around Veganuary.

By comparison, the second-most popular product, ‘vegan cat food’, only managed a far lower number of 880 average monthly searches.

demand over time animal products

Beauty & Personal Care/Hygiene

With 9,900 average monthly searches, bamboo toothbrushes – a biodegradable alternative to regular brushes – took the top spot in this category. The product underwent a steady growth trajectory until June 2019, before peaking at a comparatively enormous 27,100 average monthly searches. Since then, demand has tapered to the point where search volume for the item is now at its lowest.

eco friendly beauty products
eco friendly beauty product demand
eco friendly clothing products

Clothing, Footwear & Accessories

Bamboo socks, which don’t sound especially comfortable, took the top spot with an average monthly search volume of 14,800. And there’s only one reason for the spikes in demand, and that’s Christmas – because people sure love using socks as stocking fillers.

To go along with that new pair of bamboo socks, vegan shoes took second place with 8,100 average monthly searches.

Home & Garden

Starting in May 2018, searches for eco-friendly Home & Garden products were somewhat steady, until a real uptick in March 2020. Locked down for the first time, the searches certainly align with home-bound shoppers looking to do some DIY and home improvement during the first national lockdown. And bamboo fencing proved to be the most in-demand product, jumping from 6,600 average monthly searches in March to 74,000 in April.

top eco friendly home and garden products
home and garden product demand over time
top eco friendly baby products

Baby & Childcare

Pandemic panic buying seems to explain the huge spike in March 2020 for ‘reusable nappies’, this category’s top product. Now with 12,100 average monthly searches, the product peaked at around 40,000 as the pandemic hit the country.

As for future generations, it seems as though families are trying to start their kids young with regards to eco-friendliness. Across the category, we found decent searches for ‘recycled toys’, ‘eco-friendly toys’ and more specifically, demand for ‘recycled toy truck’ too.

baby products demand over time

Cleaning & Storage

Averaging 4,400 monthly searches, ‘compostable bags’ takes the top spot here, with a predictably huge spike at the beginning of the pandemic, which soon tapered off. Perhaps this was caused by a lack of stock in supermarkets, as shoppers panic bought themselves into a frenzy during the early weeks of COVID.

top eco friendly cleaning products
demand for cleaning products over time
eco friendly food products

Food & Beverages

Food & Beverages was the product category which saw the most demand, with plenty of searches for vegan alternatives to everyday food products. As noted earlier, ‘vegan chocolate’ proved to be the most popular eco-friendly product, thanks in part to huge seasonal spikes as a result of Easter and Christmas. ‘Vegan pancakes’ naturally saw peaks around Shrove Tuesday too, while across-the-board spikes in the early part of the year were a result of Veganuary.

food and beverage products demand over time

General Lifestyle & Other

In our last category, ‘recycled phones’ were the most in-demand product, with 9,900 average monthly searches. Elsewhere, gifting and celebrations items also made the top ten, with biodegradable confetti and recycled wrapping paper each sharing 5,400 average monthly searches. Elsewhere, ‘eco-friendly gift’ also garnered 4,400 average monthly searches.

While seasonal reasons explain some of these trend patterns, the results certainly show that more and more people are making a conscious effort to gift in a more environmentally friendly way.

top eco friendly lifestyle products
demand for lifestyle products over time

Most Searched Eco-Friendly Product Per Eco Keyword Category

 

most searched eco friendly products by keyword category

The Green Factors that Matter Most to Shoppers

green shopping factors

When it came to the more qualitative aspects of our research, the survey provided us with some key insights into shopper behaviour, which we’ve summed up below:

  • Almost half (47%) of participants believe they make a conscious effort to shop sustainably, and over a third (35%) said they do ‘sometimes’
  • Only 18% of participants admitted to not making any conscious effort to shop sustainably, which is an encouraging sign!
  • Almost half (48%) of participants said that receiving an online parcel from a company with excessive packaging would stop them from re-ordering with that company, whereas over half (52%) said that it would not stop them from ordering again
  • 7/10 (72%) participants said that they carry a refillable water bottle or cup with them when they’re out and about. 28% said that they buy bottled water
  • 2 in 5 (40%) also said that they bring a reusable hot drinks cup when purchasing a hot drink, although 3 in 5 said they do not bring a reusable cup
  • A huge 90% of survey respondents said that they would recycle their clothes with a brand if this was offered to them as a customer
  • When asked which green factors matter the most when shopping with a brand, the most important factors seem to be: recyclable packaging (67%), reusable packaging (47%), use of sustainable materials (32%) and locally sourced products (31%).

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