The global shift towards purposeful consumption

In a world that was once defined by a relentless pursuit of material possessions and conspicuous consumption, a remarkable transformation is underway. The “Stuff in Flux 2: Playbook for Circular Innovationreport has brought to light an unprecedented change in people’s attitudes towards “stuff.” This transformation signals a new era of purposeful consumption, and it carries profound implications for asset managers seeking to capitalise on emerging market opportunities.

The pioneering “leading edge”

The report, authored by circularity consultants Rosemary Cooper and Lindsey Boyle, illuminates a powerful trend; an increasing number of individuals are reevaluating their purchasing decisions, opting for purposeful consumption over excessive accumulation of goods. This “leading edge” group, comprising approximately 19% of the U.S. population and 13% in Canada, is at the forefront of this movement. Characterised by curiosity, open-mindedness, and a desire to learn about new developments, these trendsetters were identified for their ability to influence others both directly and indirectly.

This group deeply understands the distinction between excessive and purposeful consumption. They are increasingly aware of the critical issues of resource scarcity and material flows, acknowledging the environmental impact of their choices. Consequently, they intend to align themselves with brands that prioritise credible environmental and social impact, actively seeking to support sustainable practices.

The path ahead

The report points to growing demand for circular products over the next three to five years. Consumers increasingly prioritise goods that are not only durable and reliable but also repairable, extending their lifecycle and reducing waste. This emphasis on circularity presents a unique opportunity for asset managers to invest in and support companies that embrace circular business models.

The report further highlights an essential aspect of the changing consumer mindset – a shift in preferences from shopping to spending time in nature. 58% of global consumers surveyed expressed a preference for nature over the act of shopping. This revelation opens up avenues for businesses to innovate and create experiences that incorporate the beauty of nature and promote sustainable, purpose-driven products and services.

It is essential for asset managers to recognise that the transformative impact of purposeful consumption extends beyond durability and repairability. Consumers seek ‘stuff’ that enhances their lives, be it through fun and engaging experiences, innovative and unique designs, or providing practical solutions to everyday problems. The emotional connection between consumers and these purposeful products is potent and personal, shaping their preferences and loyalty towards such brands.

Moreover, this shifting attitude towards consumption is accompanied by a heightened awareness among consumers regarding the provenance and destination of goods. People want to know where stuff comes from, how it is produced, and where it goes after its useful life ends. This transparency and accountability in the supply chain will increasingly drive purchasing decisions, creating opportunities for businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable and ethical practices. Cooper emphasises that companies seeking to tap into the circular economy must go beyond mere lip service. Leading-edge consumers demand concrete actions to prevent waste and ensure a continuous circular journey.

Mitigating risk with SI Engage

Through SI Engage, asset managers can interact directly with businesses, gaining valuable insights into their strategies, operations, and environmental commitments. This engagement not only offers a deeper understanding of a company’s approach to circularity but also serves as a risk mitigation measure. By thoroughly evaluating a company’s dedication to sustainability and circular processes, asset managers can make informed investment decisions and support businesses that are genuinely committed to making a positive impact on the environment and society.

The “Stuff in Flux 2” report provides a compelling snapshot of a world undergoing a paradigm shift in attitudes towards stuff. By recognising and supporting this transformation, asset managers can drive financial growth and contribute to a more sustainable and responsible future for all.


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