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Climate crisis still top concern for consumers despite pandemic

The survey found over 80% of the public expect companies to be conscious of the environment in their communications.

Getty Images has identified climate and sustainability as top issues for the public, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Data obtained by Getty Images’ creative insights platform Visual GPS, in conjunction with YouGov, found that the issue has risen in importance since the pandemic. The findings are based on insights from 10,000 consumers and professionals across 26 countries.

What climate issues are consumers worried about?

  • The survey found no less than 81% of people expect companies to be environmentally conscious in their advertising and communications.

  • An even greater proportion, 91%, understand that the way we act now will have a big impact on the future, down slightly from 92% in 2019.

  • The number of respondents stating that they were doing everything possible to minimise their carbon footprint increased from 63% to 69% over the past year.

  • The numbers worried about air pollution also rose by 1% over the same period, to 85%.

  • Asked what measures would have the greatest positive benefit, respondents suggested embracing recycling (70%), abandoning single-use plastics (60%), adopting environmentally friendly products (58%) and utilising renewable energy sources for the home (58%).

  • Reacting to the responses Dr Rebecca Swift, global head of creative insights at Getty Images, said: “What’s interesting about these findings is that recycling, wind farms and single use plastics are all popular visual cues which have for some time been used to illustrate sustainability.“

  • Swift continues: “For example, customer searches on our platform for ’reusable water bottle’ and ’recycling’ are up 152% and 148% respectively in the last year. This demonstrates just how powerful visual language can be in shaping people’s views on an issue...“

Why it matters:

  • Swift hammers home the importance of these societal shifts, saying: “It is surprising and heartening that despite the huge change to people’s lifestyles and consumer behaviour brought about by COVID-19, the environment and sustainability remain as important to people as they ever were.

  • “In fact, our customer search data shows that ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable living’ are trending up, quite against expectation. As a comparison, while the interest in the environment waned in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the environment has become inextricably linked to wellness during the Covid-19 crisis."

  • Environmentalists have seized on the pandemic as an opportunity to reshape entrenched behaviours and habits in favour of more sustainable living by reducing travel and environmental impacts.

  • Surveys on both sides of the Atlantic indicate people are ready to do as much for the climate as they are for Covid-19 – and expect brands to display similar priorities.

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