Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Customers, brands and the environment: the green issue

Written by Nicola Williamson
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Nataliya Vaitkevich, Pexels

The public concern about the state of the environment is not a temporary fashion trend, although they influence how people shop and what they ask their favourite brands.

UK-based research, Toluna’s Global Consumer Barometer Study, dug into people's opinions and shopping choices revealing the entity of the green issue.

About The Research

Toluna’s Global Consumer Barometer Study is a regular index that taps into a panel of 36+ million members to provide accurate and timely information on the world’s current perceptions. The latest research focused on sustainability and environmental responsibility surveyed 1,023 people in the UK.

The Results

Considering the mass media attention preceding and following COP26 and the activation of the youngest generation, the result of the study would not surprise us. Environmental issues are the biggest concern, with 61% of those surveyed stating that they are most worried about the future of the planet. This is followed by poverty (49%), human rights (42%), and equality & diversity (41%).

Given people’s concerns around the environment, when asked how they would help to make the world a cleaner, greener place, the following behaviours were highlighted:

  • 72% of people said they recycle as much as they can.
  • 70% of those surveyed said they focus on reducing food waste as much as possible.
  • 57% sell, re-use, repurpose or donate unwanted clothes.
  • 33% buy fair trade or ethically sourced items.

From this study, it also emerged that ethical reasons heavily influence brand and shopping choices:

  • 87% of respondents believe brands should be held accountable for their actions to consumers, with over half feeling strongly about this.
  • 73% of those surveyed said they often or sometimes go out of their way to engage and buy from brands that are closely aligned to their personal values, such as being more socially and environmentally responsible.
  • Moreover, 40% have actually stopped using brands that do not align with their values.
  • 52% of people said they think about whether the brand they are buying products or services from supports the ethical issues they feel strongly about.
  • Nearly half (49%) of respondents would switch to brands more aligned to their ethical values.
  • 46% said brands should be doing a lot better when it comes to being environmentally responsible.
  • 25% said that environmental issues were their number one reason for choosing a service or product from a brand.

Who is responsible for driving change and creating more ethical brands and businesses?

  • 70% of those surveyed - an overwhelming percentage - said the responsibility was down to the government.
  • 61% said brands and manufacturers must take the lead in being more responsible.
  • 60% of respondents said driving change is down to each individual who must change their day-to-day behaviour to help create a more sustainable, environmentally responsible way of life.
  • 59% of people believe supermarkets and retailers must lead by example to encourage behavioural change.
  • Food and drink companies (41%), travel companies (36%), and energy suppliers (36%) were the top three businesses that people felt could do a lot more to support their ethical values.

Lucia Juliano, Research Sector Head at Toluna said: '[...] It’s clear that they want businesses and brands to do better, act more ethically, and put sustainability at the heart of their ethos.'

The research painted today's typical customer, who does buy mindfully and asks brands to follow his/her example. The majority of the British population have the future of the ecosystem with savvy and sensible practices like thrifting and recycling that feel light on their pocket and the planet.