United Stationers: Sustainability Talk the Walk

Although challenges in the economy have been at the forefront of discussion around spending the past couple of years, environmental sustainability is now more important than ever for businesses. Product purchasers and consumers are becoming increasingl


According to a survey conducted by United Stationers, 39% of consumers and 44% of product purchasers deem a company’s reputation for sustainability as very important when purchasing for the workplace. It did not come as a surprise to the research team that the most important criteria are quality (the product has to perform the function for which it is purchased) and ease of reordering (convenience). But the rapid rise of sustainability is surprising, as overall it edges out price, brand recognition and additional services associated with the product as important considerations. There are differences by product category, but quality is always the number one position, and sustainability never falls far from the top in the mind of the purchaser even as budget concerns focus attention on price.

Examining specific workplace product categories, technology equipment users look toward a company’s reputation for sustainability more than purchasers of other categories, with 52% of consumers and 51% of purchasers ranking a company’s reputation for sustainability as important. In the tech category, the importance of brand replaces ease of reordering in the number two spot. For the office furniture and industrial supply categories, a company’s reputation for sustainability is only surpassed by the quality of the product.

The significance of sustainability creates opportunities for companies and brands that put an emphasis on their sustainability efforts. It is no longer enough to carry products with “green” attributes — the heart of the green opportunity is for companies to demonstrate that they are as sustainable as the products they carry.

Historically, consumers put pressure on suppliers to “walk the talk” when it comes to sustainability. For suppliers that have worked hard on their sustainability initiatives, there is an opportunity now to “talk the walk” as well – to proudly build awareness of their sustainability efforts.

Click on the link below to download the full version of the ‘Sustainability talk the walk’ white paper.