On hearing “sustainability”, shoppers ranked durability as the most important to them. 14% of these said at least six months constituted a product as durable, 22% said seven to 11 months, 32% said three years or more and 33% said one to two years.

With regards to terminology, 46% of shoppers preferred or recognised “eco-friendly”, compared with 37% for “sustainable”, 27% for “responsibly sourced”, 21% for “environmentally preferred”, 20% for “eco-conscious” while 19% said none of these.

Assessing the consumers’ views on types of sustainable material used by brands, the following were prioritised: recycled, biodegradable, natural and bio-based, in that order of importance. 72% of consumers do not have a clear understanding of what “vegan” means when used by brands. For instance, shoppers want to know whether this means plastics or plant-based materials are used to make a product “vegan”.

64% of consumers said they would pay more for sustainable shoes, provided it was marketed correctly. 35% would pay US$1-5 more, 16% would pay US$6-10 more, 13% would pay US$10 more, while 36% would not pay any additional amount for sustainable shoes.

The survey questions were developed through input from over 100 shoe companies and experts, including VF Corporation, Deckers Brands, Nike, Wolverine Worldwide and more.