Environment Marketing

Sceptical consumers are not convinced by big brand environmental pledges


By John Glenday, Reporter

February 27, 2020 | 3 min read

UK consumers are increasingly prioritising environmental issues, with 64% citing plastic pollution as their number one concern.

Sceptical consumers are not convinced by big brand environmental pledges

Sceptical consumers are not convinced by big brand environmental pledges

The survey of 2,264 internet users conducted by GlobalWebIndex found that shifting societal pressures are fueling a large degree of scepticism towards the sustainability stance of big brands, with 49% of the belief that climate change pledges pay mere lip service to public concern.

Other concerns to rank highly in the minds of respondents include an increasingly unpredictable climate, raised by 57% of UK internet users, as well as deforestation (50%); air pollution (49%) and rising global temperatures (47%).

Dubbed #TheAttenboroughEffect this green crusade has seen consumers and brands alike swept up in a new awareness of the detrimental impact our daily lives have on the planet but such shifts are yet to translate into decisive action, with 65% oblivious to grand sustainability pledges made by the likes of Microsoft and Starbucks.

Even when the public is conscious of environmental pledges just 43% believe them to be achievable, while 29% believe such claims to be flat out fanciful.

This absence of confidence has seen 57% of Britons take matters into their own hands by actively reduced the quantity of plastic they use over the past 12 months, echoing the emergence of more militant activism in the form of groups such as Extinction Rebellion which is now adopting a campaigning voice on major issues such as the HS2 rail project.

Katie Gilsenan, consumer insights manager at GlobalWebIndex, said: “While brands are increasingly making purpose-driven pledges to tackle the rising concerns of climate change, they are failing to drive consumer sentiment and loyalty. This is likely because their CSR efforts are often not clearly communicated and consumers don’t have enough information around how brands actually plan to achieve their pledges.

"This results in a lack of trust in them and a missed opportunity for consumer-facing brands. Attesting to this, our global CSR report confirmed almost 7 in 10 online consumers would or might stop using a brand because of its social or environmental wrongdoing. So it’s simple - brands need to communicate effectively to win over consumers over climate change.”

A broader sustainability drive has seen WPP ban all single-use plastics from its offices together with campaigns to clean up the world's oceans and eliminate plastic straws.

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