Are We Becoming More Ego?

Sustainable Brand Index™ divides consumers into four different behaviour groups based on how they relate to sustainability: Ego, Moderate, Smart & Dedicated. Read more here:


By looking at how consumers act in different situations and cross-tabulate this with underlying structures in their attitudes, we end up with a number of patterns that are analysed and used as the basis for our four behaviour groups. All groups have different ideas on sustainability, companies and behaviours.

One trend that becomes apparent when analysing the chart below, showing the development of the Ego group over time, is that the Ego group increases in all markets excluding the Netherlands since 2019. So are we becoming more Ego? And if so – how should brands respond to this development?


When looking at the data, Ego is usually a man with strong views about how society functions, or at least how it should function. He has traditional values, and the local community is a very important sphere for him. His greatest interests are his own existence, things happening in his own country, and the local community. There are various driving forces that determines the Ego group. Some people classified as Ego, are generally uninterested in most things outside of their personal sphere. Others are more driven by tradition or resentment, while yet another segment of Ego has defined their interest and opinions related to sustainability based on a lower education and income. Ego´s educational level is, in fact, slightly lower than the national average.

Ego bases behaviour and purchasing decisions primarily on function, simplicity and speed. It is often about satisfying a need, regardless of the consequence. 


While the Ego group increases this year, the Smart group, which is the largest of the two groups that are heavily interested in sustainability, decreases. The Moderate group, i.e. the largest behaviour group that are so-called ‘sustainability followers’ are making a rather flat development. And last but not least, the extremely zealous and sustainability-interested group Dedicated, increases in some markets and decreases in others.

But as for the large groups which are Ego, Moderate and Smart, we see similar developments across the Nordic markets. Ego goes up, Smart down, and Moderate straight.


For a long time, we have proclaimed that a focus on the Smart group has been the road to success in sustainability. Also, we have seen that Ego has been completely uninterested in sustainability for many years. That has now changed.

Sustainability has claimed a top spot on the societal agenda, and people are overall more concerned. In short, the overall level of interest in sustainability has risen.

Although the commitment to be sustainable or listening to companies that talk about sustainability from a traditional angle is often low for Ego, one can now reach Ego by targeting the sustainability message carefully around the right topics. Thus, Ego can be interested in sustainability; you just have to find out how to address them the best. However, Ego does not want to be showered with sustainability messages. It needs to be an added value to other priorities, like price and well-being.

These facts combined means that we need to broaden our view on relevant target groups for sustainable products & services and communication, and not remove Ego from the equation. 


Well, not necessarily. Revisiting the graph on Ego’s development shows clear ups and downs in fluctuations, meaning that the increase of Ego in the Nordic markets this year is likely to be a short-term trend. However, our hopes about Ego’s gradual decrease in our Nordic markets since 2017/2018, due to the increased sustainability discussions in society, was broken this year. It is time to realise that the Ego group is a significant share of the market and we need them in order to fulfil the SDGs and reach the goal of 1,5C heating. Hence, approaching them in the right way is crucial. 


Ego cares about sustainability, just in another way and without using that word. Here are some things that Ego prioritises as much, or even more, than Moderate & Smart: decent labour conditions in the domestic market, domestic work opportunities, locally produced products, anti-corruption and, believe it or not, SDG6 Clean Water & Sanitation.

Targeting Ego with messages and issues that they are interested in, will become increasingly essential to strengthen your brand perception on sustainability in the coming years.

More information about the data available in Sustainable Brand Index™.

Tagged: insightsconsumer insightsdataconsumer groupsbehaviour

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