Consumers do not trust brands to stick to environmental claims

New research from GWI has found that 62% of consumers are only a little trusting that brands will stick to their environmental claims or pledges and 22% don’t trust brands at all. Of those surveyed 11% trust them a lot and just 3% trust them completely showing brands can do more to highlight how they are fulfilling efforts to be sustainable.

The Brits seem to be a bit more pessimistic than the rest of the world when it comes to the future of climate change. 42% say the environment will get worse in the next 6 months. Yikes. Despite this gloomy outlook UK consumers are actually very keen to do their bit for the environment and are making green decisions.

A lovely 85% are recycling, 61% are reducing their plastic use, and 44% are donating household items. When it comes to their shopping habits 33% are supporting small businesses when they shop, and some consumers say they’re now opting for greener products such as buying sustainable clothing (20%) or buying organic food (16%).

While many people generally want to live a more sustainable lifestyle, it’s not always an option or a priority. The big elephant in the room is cost. The price of sustainable products has long been a massive barrier to consumers adopting more eco-friendly lifestyles, which is even more of a consideration now as we grapple with a cost of living crisis. Consumers will generally tend to opt for ways to save money, but that doesn’t have to always be at the expense of the planet. Brands should lean into ways that consumers can stay mindful of the environment, on a budget. 
Brands also play a key role in sustainability. Our data shows how crucial it is for brands to commit to protecting the environment through eco-friendly practices when building consumer trust. Equally, it shows how false sustainability claims like greenwashing can erode this trust and ultimately discourage consumers from buying from a brand in the future.

Katie Gilsenan, Trends Manager, GWI

When it comes to who is doing what, older generations are more likely to say they reduce their plastic packaging use, donate household items, or buy energy efficient appliances whereas younger generations are more inclined to say they buy sustainable clothing than older generations, showing that younger generations are still leading the way for circular fashion.

Sustainability is increasingly important for consumers when choosing a brand to buy from, with over a third wanting to see brands using sustainably sourced materials (39%), reducing company CO2 emissions and energy use (37%), and demonstrating transparency on how a product is created (32%). When it comes to what would discourage consumers from buying from a brand, false sustainability and environmental claims (ie. greenwashing) is discouraging for 40% of consumers, while a poor environmental track record would discourage 39%.

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