CPI Card Group commissioned an independent research firm to conduct an online survey of credit and debit cardholders in February 2020.  The 2303 participants answered questions about their environmental concerns, and how those concerns would impact their purchasing behavior. Their answers can help financial institutions align their card and other programs to their customers’ sustainability concerns.

Consumers were asked how they feel about environmental issues and specifically about sustainable payment cards as a solution. Millennials lead in technology adoption and social platform usage.  Therefore, you might think that younger generations such as Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen-Z (born between 1997 and 2010) would express the greatest concern for environmental issues. You might also think they are the most likely to switch to a sustainable card, and therefore be the best targets for payment cards that help protect the environment. However, interest was relatively equal across the age groups.  CPI’s Consumer Insights Study discovered thought-provoking consumer attitudes and trends that might make you think differently about cardholder interests and which groups to target with sustainable payment products.

Would Someone Switch Cards or Issuers for a Product Like Second Wave?

Credit and debit cardholders exhibited a strong willingness to switch to a more sustainable option. Eighty-five percent of cardholders indicated they would switch to a more sustainable card with their current issuer if the features and benefits remained the same and 53% would actually switch issuers for a sustainable card with the same features and benefits.

The views across the age groups were evenly shared for those who are “somewhat” or “very” likely to make the switch to a card made with Recovered Ocean Plastic if it were offered by the same issuer that offered their card today. (Figure 1).

Bar graph showcasing statistics

The largest generational shift in perspective occurred when cardholders were asked whether they would switch to a card made with Recovered Ocean Plastic if offered by another institution.  Younger generations showed greater willingness to switch.   However, while older generations were less willing to change still nearly 40% in the 53-64 age group said they would.

The Reason Behind the Shift: People of All Ages Are Concerned About the Environment

Surprisingly, environmental concern doesn’t appear to be exclusive to younger generations.  Overall, 94% of cardholders expressed concern about protecting the environment and 63% were “very concerned”.  While Gen-Z did express the greatest propensity to be “very concerned” at 71%, all other generational cohorts were high at 60%+.

Second Wave is Appealing

In November 2018, prior to launching CPI’s Second Wave payment cards, which feature a core made with recovered ocean-bound plastic, a similar survey found that cardholders liked the idea of cards made with “recovered ocean plastic”.  In fact, the survey indicated 84% of cardholders considered them “appealing” and 57% expressed that the more eco-friendly payment cards would be “very appealing”.

In the recent survey, the number of cardholders who found the concept of a Second Wave card “appealing” rose from 57% to 67% (Figure 2). Additionally, enthusiasm not only remained, but grew 10 percentage points, indicated by those who found the cards to be “very appealing”.

Fig 2:  Respondents who found ocean plastic cards to be appealing

Stacked graph showcasing statistics

Among the age groups, results were relatively steady across the generations who found Second Wave payment cards either “appealing” or “very appealing”.

The data is enticing and portrays consumer demand for sustainable solutions as a trend not reserved for any specific generation, with consumers genuinely concerned about protecting the environment and a willingness to purchase products that support this goal.  For financial institutions looking to align with the sustainability interests of their accountholders, consider adding a more sustainable payment card option to your portfolio and don’t be surprised if it’s not just Millennials and Gen-Z that sign on.  For more information about Second Wave payment cards, click here.

CPI also recently added the Earthwise payment card to its portfolio, for more information click on the link here.

Jack Jania

Written by:

Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.

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