60% of Brits believe green and ethical “talk” by finance companies is a PR stunt

New research by Mintel has found that six in ten Brits believe that green and ethical claims by finance companies are just a PR stunt.

The ‘Consumer Attitudes towards Green and Ethical Finance’ study of 2000 people found that only 15% have checked the company’s website or marketing material to find out if the firm has ethical credentials, and just 7% have spoken to a company’s representative about their policies.

Toby Clark, head of financial services research at Mintel, said: “This latest research shows that the nation tends to be extremely cynical about financial services firms’ motivations. There is often a gulf between how consumers think and how this translates into activity.

“Even when people talk about being green, most people suspect that the banks, insurers and investments firms are just engaging in PR. Brands should consider this gap when instigating activity around ethical products - and be aware that this cynicism exists within the consumer mindset on this issue.

“Ethical financial services are a long way down the list of the nation’s ethical priorities, and participation rates compare pretty poorly to, say, the quarter who buy fair trade products and almost a fifth who boycott products from unethical providers. People show a contradictory approach to ethical finance. There is a gulf between the proportion who are prepared to change the way they shop for ethical reasons and the proportion who are prepared to change the way they bank. It’s a figure that speaks volumes about inertia in the financial services market, but also hints at the widespread cynicism towards banks’ motives.”

Ishbel Macleod

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