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Consumer Research for Next-Gen Materials and Why It Matters

American and Chinese consumers are not only willing but often eager to buy animal-free, next-gen materials. There are enormous opportunities to help make the world a better place by filling this existing consumer demand.

Do Well By Doing Good: Consumer enthusiasm for next-gen materials shows clear opportunities.

Understanding the consumer landscape is essential for accelerating the next-gen material industry. We’ve partnered with North Mountain Consulting to answer a range of consumer research questions: What are consumer perceptions of next-gen materials? How likely are people to purchase these products? Which consumer segments are willing to pay more? 


Our research shows that consumers in the United States and China are overwhelmingly interested in next-gen materials. The consumer demand is there. The need -- and the opportunity -- is closing the supply gap. Creating, producing, and selling sustainable, next-gen materials represents an enormous opportunity for entrepreneurs, investors, brands, engineers, and scientists.

Explore the results from MII’s open-access consumer research studies below.

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Consumer Adoption of Next-Gen Materials: A US Segmentation Study

A study by MII and North Mountain Consulting Group released in September 2021 showed that in the U.S., nearly all participants – 94% – stated they were at least somewhat likely to purchase next-gen materials, and nearly half – 45% – were highly likely to purchase. More than a third – 39% – said they would actually pay more for sustainable, animal-free versions of leather, wool, down, silk, fur, and exotic skins.

This analysis estimated that the market share for next-gen products would be over half of total purchases for each material subcategory: 54% of leather, 57% of wool, 60% of silk, 61% of down, 66% of fur, and 63% of exotic skins. 

Alternatives to Leather: An Exploratory Study of U.S. Consumer Perceptions

A previous 2021 study found that 55% of U.S. consumers reported that they preferred leather alternatives to animal leather. Within this group, 69% of respondents reported that they would pay more for leather alternatives. Of those who currently prefer animal leather, 80% said they were open to purchasing leather grown from cells in a factory, and 37% were enthusiastic about purchasing such an option.

Next-Gen Leather: Chinese Consumer Perceptions

In a 2021 survey in China, where the vast majority of animal leather is produced, the results were astounding: “The study showed the highest rates of acceptance toward a new technology I have yet seen –– 90% of the participants selected a next-gen product over conventional and 70% reported a high likelihood of purchasing,” said Keri Szedja, Founder & Principal Research Scientist of NMCG. “This study suggests there will be wide acceptance of next-gen leather in urban Chinese markets once at scale.” With fashion industry revenue in China expected to be 383 billion USD in 2021, or 44% of the global total, the interest of Chinese consumers in next-gen materials is especially exciting. 

Existing demand for sustainable next-gen materials reveals incredible opportunities.

MII’s studies show significant unmet demand for sustainable next-gen materials. This is a huge global market without consumer attachment to incumbent animal-based materials. Meeting this market moment requires scientific insights and engineering expertise, along with insightful entrepreneurs and visionary brands. 


Are you interested in catalyzing the next-gen materials industry?

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