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Cactus Fields

Case study

Adoption of Next-Gen Materials in the US

Next-gen materials is an overarching category of high performance, sustainable, and animal-free materials developed for the fashion, automotive, and homegoods industries. North Mountain is partnering with Material Innovation Initiative (Napa, CA, US) to establish a consumer research program on next-gen materials used in the fashion, automotive, and homegoods industries.

In this study, we assessed indicators of future adoption of next-gen materials, determined potential market shares, and profiled US early adopters.


  • Our sample of consumers (N = 2,051) was representative of the US population, with interlocked sampling quotas for age, gender, and region.

  • We reported findings for the general US population, each generational category, and early adopters (those who reported a high interest in purchasing next-gen materials).

Select Findings

  • Purchase intention: 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. Interest in purchasing was consistent across generations and geographic regions.

  • Likelihood of paying more: 60% of early adopters were willing to pay more for next-gen materials than conventional materials. Likelihood of paying more was fairly similar amongst the Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X segments (42-44%), though Boomers were less likely to pay more (30%).

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  • Market share: Estimated market share of next-gen products was 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.

  • Sociodemographics: Early adopters were very similar to the general population in terms of age, gender, region, and race/ethnicity. The early adopter population was slightly more educated, higher income earning, and more liberal.

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  • Production technologies: Among early adopters, likelihood of purchasing products was higher for products made with familiar production technologies such as recycled materials, biodegradable materials, and materials sourced from plants/algae/fungi. Less familiar or more technical production technologies, including biopolymers, cell-cultivation, and greenhouse gas inputs had a lower purchase likelihood. (However, technologies were not explained in detail and benefits were not described.)


  • Targeting early adopters is a key step in long-term societal adoption, as subsequent population segments watch and later adopt after the innovation begins to normalize in society.


  • For technologies that are less widely known, awareness and education will be important for consumers to gain familiarity as a precursor to purchasing.


  • Additional consumer research applied toward specific next-gen products and technologies will provide further guidance for R & D and marketing.

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