Brands who publically talk about their sustainability actions are getting more consumer attention than those who don’t

Are consumers taking advantage of an increasing focus on sustainability?

 When evaluating sustainability, consumers focus on the impact our behaviour and activity has on the planet and its resources

 Actions, rather than CSR statements, are what consumers demand to see from organisations, especially so for millennials

 The study’s results indicate that brands who publically talk about their sustainability actions are getting more consumer attention than those who don’t

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Future Thinking, the business intelligence research consultancy, has revealed the findings of a sustainability study, which focuses on consumers perceptions of sustainability across a variety of industries, what sustainable activities consumers participate in and how the public view sustainable branding and messaging. The survey monitors the sentiments of over 25,000 consumers to determine perceptions towards the issue of sustainability. Part of the results reveal that sustainability messaging that resonates most strongly with the public relates to the planet and raw resources (34%).

Looking at consumers’ general perception of sustainability, the impact on the land and climate were by far the most important messages (52% and 49% respectively). Both of these are at the macro level which reflects how consumers focus on the impact of their behaviour towards the planet at a global level.

16-34 year olds take a broader view on sustainability by also considering the welfare of employees, customers and suppliers (24% vs 13%) when compared to those aged over 55. This could be attributed to them being the first generation to grow up with environmental issues featuring prominently in the news agenda as well as the success of sustainability messaging being geared towards this age group. This is consistent with the fact that the younger generation, who are regular users of social media and engage with issues more readily online, consider sustainability to be important (86%), compared to those that do not participate in social media (76%).

Respondents indicated that the most important sustainability messages were; minimising waste to landfills (39%), using sustainable ingredient sources (37%) and using renewable energy wherever possible (37%). Furthermore, when asked about specific industries, consumers believe the importance of sustainability is essential across the board, but energy providers came out highest overall, followed by food and drink manufacturers and supermarkets.

In addition, those surveyed said that an organisation’s actions (36%), rather than their principles and truthfulness (20%), give a greater perception that they engage in sustainable activities. This is reflected by those brands who publically talk about their sustainability and responsibility measures now seemingly gaining traction and buy-in with consumer than those who don’t.

Claudia Strauss, Managing Director of FMCG and Shopper at Future Thinking, comments on the report findings:

“For consumers, sustainability represents messaging around the planet and its resources. It involves taking positive actions and taking a stand by encouraging changes in behaviour that will protect and regenerate the planet. What is clear is individuals have separated environmental sustainability issues from human welfare and charity ones. 

And corporations should therefore be mindful to ensure their messages reflect and respect how people interpret CSR initiatives. Not only do consumers want to see more sustainable actions, they believe that a brand who demonstrates active and positive participation will be a brand they feel closer to and more likely to see as leaders in their field.”

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