Customers are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of their lifestyles and the most successful companies will be those who best respond to shoppers' desire to 'buy green', business representatives argued at a conference this week.
As fears over climate change mount and Western consumption patterns continue to put a strain on the world's resources, environmentally-conscious citizens are attracted to companies that share their concerns about environmental degradation.
'Products no longer enough'
"Consumers are definitely looking for companies who do the right things. Products are no longer enough," said Tim Mobsby, vice-president for European marketing at Kellogg's.
Shoppers want details of who manufactured a product and what they believe in, and will choose brands that share their own values, he predicted.
Sustainable production is therefore gaining in importance as customers choose brands that reflect their lifestyles and worldview.
"It is going up the agenda in companies, primarily because consumers are getting more concerned," Mobsby said.
However, he cautioned that shoppers were only willing to make sacrifices up to a certain point and that price would continue to be the main driver of purchase decisions.
"Companies need to solve their collective problems simultaneously. You've got to keep the price down. The challenge is identifying consumers' needs and wants, and providing them in a way that's economically viable," the Kellogg's boss said.
Social commentators agreed that low prices would remain central to business success, but insisted that modern consumers demanded more than just good value from their favourite brands.