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Conscious consumption: the rise of a more sustainable society

In this podcast, our moderator and former BBC World News presenter Nisha Pillai talks to Beatriz Sánchez, Region Head for the Americas and Member of the Executive Board at Julius Baer, and Esteban Polidura, Head of Advisory and Products for the Americas, about how the pandemic has raised commitment to ethical and sustainable consumption – which experts believe will endure long after the pandemic.

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How do you want to live your life? It may sound a like a somewhat philosophical question, but individuals around the world are recognising that the planet can no longer support continued current rates of consumption. More and more consumers are balancing their buying decisions with their social, environmental and political convictions. This began with the millennials, but the baton has definitely been passed on to other generations. Material possessions are no longer the ultimate goal. Today’s consumers prefer to spend in a more measured, sustainable, and responsible way.

How did the pandemic change the consumer commitment to, and awareness of, buying ethically and sustainably over the last year? Is the society in general more committed to conscious consumption? Our Think Tank Podcast explains.

Listen to the podcast
Click on the player below to listen to the conversation:

Podcast snippets

Is conscious consumption the new normal?

In the past year, our view of the world has changed. The corona crisis turned our lives upside down as country after country moved into lockdown. “What was normal before was not normal any more, especially for those who caught the virus. Think of meeting family and friends, think of a stroll in the city, or think of travelling”, says Beatriz Sánchez, Region Head for the Americas and Member of the Executive Board at Julius Baer. As we became locked down, we were forced to slow down. We had to think about what is important in life – health and wellbeing on all levels, family and friends. “Whether or not we consider ourselves conscious consumers can be very subjective. For some, it may actually mean cutting back on consumption. For others, it may simply mean being much more aware of the consequences their consumption has”, she completes.

Conscious consumerism and responsible investing

Conscious consumers are increasingly pushing companies to focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) parameters. “Organisations are investing real money to address issues like high carbon footprint as consumers demand accountability. There are now formalised guidelines on ESG factors, internal and external staff auditing reports and senior managers with oversight of responsible investing”, says Esteban Polidura, Julius Baer’s Head of Advisory & Products for the Americas at Julius Baer. “Companies that seek to meet ESG criteria tend to show higher profitability, higher dividend yields, lower idiosyncratic tail risks and higher valuations”, he completes.

We recently launched the Julius Baer’s Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report, that analyses consumption trends by tracking the price developments of premium goods and services in the Julius Baer Lifestyle Index and explore which lifestyle, regional and economic trends will impact our life and wealth. The rising of the conscious consumption movement is one among the insights of this report.

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