Foursquare Insights: Sustainable Consumer Behavior

  • Foursquare
  • March 31, 2022

Americans want to change for the better, but does location data show evidence that they’re following through?

2 Girls Using Phone

The importance of sustainability has been top of mind for most American consumers, prompting them to make changes in their day to day lives. There are ample opportunities to become more sustainable, and Americans want to make a change. 52% of consumers claim they are more environmentally-friendly now than they were six months ago. But are they actually making meaningful changes?

Foursquare set out to verify whether we see actual changes in observed behavior based on location data. We found that consumers are enjoying the environment more, with an uptick of traffic to National Parks. With more Americans spending more time in nature, it may perhaps signify their shift in behavior when it comes to protecting and preserving the environment.

To better understand how Americans are approaching sustainable living, Foursquare examined foot traffic patterns alongside self-reported survey data to analyze the shifts in consumers’ efforts in becoming sustainable in various aspects of life – transportation, food consumption and shopping habits.

Here are some key learnings:

  1. More consumers are driving electric vehicles or using public transportation. Nearly ⅓ of Americans say they’re seeking out more sustainable modes of transportation. While location data shows that most people still rely on gas-powered vehicles, we are seeing some evidence of a shift to more sustainable transportation. In fact, electric vehicle charging stations saw nearly 2X penetration (% of Americans who visited) last year compared to 2020. More people are also turning to public transportation as a more sustainable alternative to driving.
  2. Americans are making significant strides to cut back meat/animal product consumption. 58% of consumers say they are strongly influenced by sustainability when making a food/beverage purchase at a restaurant, and 62% when at a grocery store. Location data verifies that vegan & vegetarian restaurants, farmers markets, health food stores all saw an increase in penetration (% of Americans who visited) year over year. But which consumer segment is driving this growth?
  3. Thrifting and resale retail is on the rise. Foursquare data verifies that thrift store shoppers nearly doubled YoY, with penetration reaching 12.5% in December 2021. In fact, there were more thrift store shoppers than fast fashion shoppers in late 2021. Now you may wonder, how much faster will resale retail grow compared to the broader retail clothing sector by 2025?

The road to a sustainable future is inevitable, and it may come sooner than later, revealing how people continue to shift to more sustainable living throughout 2022 and beyond.

Check out the FULL REPORT to read all of the insights.