Trending 2024: Reckoning with what it means to be sustainable

November 21, 2023

What are the tensions that will define the year ahead? And what new angles and evolutions of our existing trends will create new imperatives for action?

Our Trending 2024 report reveals how tension and unrest is creating the need for reckoning across four key areas of life: what it means to be human, what it means to be healthy, what it means to be sustainable, and what it means to belong. In this post, we focus on one of the four areas that will define the year ahead, and how brands can respond.

Download our free Trending 2024 Report Preview to uncover more insights for 2024.

In 2024, we will see consumers reckoning with what it means to be sustainable.

Who is responsible for planetary health? And what will it really take to reach ambitious climate targets? Until now, it’s been relatively easy for consumers to say they want to help protect the environment, to choose the sustainable option when shopping, and to expect brands and governments to clean up their act. Going into 2024, however, key milestones on the road to net zero will arrive rapidly. Consumers and brands will have to make significant sacrifices to mitigate climate disaster, from overhauling operations to forgoing personal comfort and accepting major lifestyle changes. 

New expenses will become the norm, with consumers asked to pay more for eco-friendly technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps. They’ll also have to get used to doing less of the activities they enjoy and perhaps take for granted, such as flying and eating meat. While some consumers are already happy to make such sacrifices, we also see evidence of resistance to measures such as low emission-zone charges in cities. As extreme temperatures, wildfires, flooding and more continue to plague the planet, the divide between those who are willing to change and those who are reluctant is only set to deepen. 

What will happen next? 

We considered a range of weak signals and critical uncertainties to map out 3 potential future scenarios for the reckoning with sustainability:

Collision subscribers have access to more detailed scenario descriptions, as well as sector-specific imperatives for action.

How to act:  

  • Address consumers who refuse to make sacrifices. Even as the climate crisis becomes starker, some consumers will inevitably prove resistant to calls to adopt more sustainable practices. This could raise the question of whether brands who want to be seen as sustainable and responsible should give up on such individuals or try to accommodate them somehow. Taking the former course may lead to a loss in revenue, while taking the latter is likely to lead to criticism from campaigners and activist consumers.

Reckoning with what it means to be sustainable is one of four reckoning landscapes we explore in our Trending 2024 report. Download a preview version now for a more detailed breakdown of the trends and tensions set to define the year ahead. 


Written by Content Team

The Content Team produces all the reports and articles that get published on our dynamic consumer trends intelligence platform, Collision. By tracking trends, monitoring signals of change across sectors and audiences, and working alongside our data team to digest and analyse our proprietary consumer research, they help leading global brands strengthen strategic relevance and gain a competitive edge.

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