Estimated reading time 3 min

Understand the context: Leading-edge consumer study

How are leading-edge consumer behaviours influencing the mass market? What is the role of sustainability in this dynamic change? Find out more about what leading-edge consumers value and what they want from their purchases.


Markus Terho

Director, Nature and daily life & PSLifestyle


Figuring out what truly makes consumers tick is key to the creation of products that consumers truly desire, as is the best way to communicate these benefits, in the right place at the right time. This research – Changing relationship with people and goods (pdf) – provides insights into the role sustainability plays for consumers.

A common refrain is that consumers care about sustainability in surveys, but only about price at the moment of purchase. This study provides some thoughts on how sustainability often plays an important part in creating a well-rounded product.

The key component of this study is the identification and extensive observation of a group of consumers referred to as the “leading edge.” The new direction these consumers have taken will become increasingly relevant for the mass market. Their consumption habits create new business opportunities, while simultaneously placing more pressure on established businesses to change and adapt to meet a new set of expectations.


  1. A better understanding of how people value goods today and how goods are likely to be valued in the future assists the positioning of sustainable products in the mass market.
  2. Providing answers to the question: How are new technologies and business models impacted by the evolution of consumers?
  3. Guidance for businesses on the future of selling consumer goods and the strategic positioning of sustainability in what a company does and sells.


  • Dozens of companies and non-profit organisations have used the leading-edge consumer study’s findings in their insight and strategy work.
  • IKEA, as one of the project participants, has based its renewed sustainability approach on the key findings of this research.


Download the method as a pdf version: Understand the context: Leading-edge consumer study (pdf)

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