Shoppers increasingly backing brands with genuine eco-credentials

Shoppers in the UK are increasingly spending with brands that have a genuine sustainability message and eco-credentials, all while calling out those making ‘meaningless’ marketing calls on the topic.

A study GlobalWebIndex has discovered that 80% of internet shoppers in the UK describe themselves as ‘concerned’ about the environment, with 64% in particular worried about the levels of plastic generated by consumption.

As a result, 85% say that a poor environmental track record attributed to a company would cause them to cease purchasing the firm’s goods, while near half would actually pay a premium for brands with genuine environmentally sound credentials.

As has been reported widely in the media, the behaviour is led by the younger generations, who in general seem to be better educated about the environmental impacts attached to their purchases.

Awareness of corporate responsibility is highest among 35 to 44 year-olds who will have been in work a while, but fall into the adult demographic with some of the highest exposure to consumer demands for cleaner goods.

It is the younger consumers that are placing the greatest pressure on brands, with 43% of 16 to 24s who weren’t aware of the term ‘corporate responsibility’ still okay with paying extra for a brand that has a positive impact on the environment. Only 31% of 55 to 64 year olds agreed they would pay that premium.

Furthermore, it was found that shoppers would buy more often for brands with eco-credentials as the focal point of their work. The trend is rising too, with the number of consumers will to spend more rising from 49% in 2011 to 57% in 2019. This was found to be true especially among 25 to 34 years olds and less among older and perhaps more affluent shoppers.

Surveying U.S. and UK consumers, the research found that brand loyalty was most affected by factors such as reputation for social wellbeing, transparency of the brand and its products and strong environmental credentials. Interestingly, a brand that “helps my online reputation” ranked lower in priority for consumers.

The bike industry could be well positioned to take advantage, as alluded to by the research on the topic of industries with the greatest potential to monetize CSR. 54% of UK and U.S. consumers surveyed on the subject of automotive and transport suggested they may pay more for a brand that had a strong reputation for social wellbeing. Cycling seems an obvious choice for such credentials.

On clothing, 55% would pay would pay a premium for such a message, while on cleaning products 42% would stump up extra. 62% of those buying electronics would pay more for brands that are transparent on their supply chain impact and 43% on food and drink.

Among those in the bike industry doing their bit for the environment, Scotland’s Endura most recently followed Australia’s Reid Bikes by pledging tree planting, stating “if we don’t stop climate change, we won’t have a world to clean up.”

Finally, the research warns of the quite dire consequences of not taking action, or worse, covering up a bad track record.

84% of consumers would feel alienated by a brand with a poor environmental track record, 83% put off by excessive or unsustainable packaging, 82% by irresponsible sourcing of materials and 82% by a poor human rights track record.

Therefore fast fashion is one of the industries with eco-credentials most under the spotlight for consumers, with consumers increasingly aware of the level of water pollution and chemical use in clothing manufacture. Surprisingly, consumers are somewhat letting brands off the hook – just 43% of consumers think the fashion industry should be more accountable for its impact on the world.