Brands that put their sustainability message front and centre are gaining cut-through with UK shoppers, a new study by consumer research agency Impact has found.
In addition, sustainability metrics are now one of the top four factors cited by UK consumers when purchasing a particular grocery product.
In April, the group spoke to 6,000 consumers to determine their views on sustainability amongst 100 renowned brands. It also carried out qualitative research to determine the top factors that influenced consumers perceptions of sustainability, which were confirmed as social responsibility, environmental friendliness, financial responsibility and ethics.
Overall Sustainability Score
Each of the brands was given an overall 'sustainability score' out of 100, with brands renowned for promoting their ethical standpoint scoring highest. Brands that achieved the highest scores included:
- Ecover 80.1
- Rude Health 72.6
- Linda McCartney Foods 72.5
- Method 72.1
- The Cheeky Panda 70.7
Both Ecover and Method are manufacturers of cleaning products, Rude Health and Linda McCartney make dairy free and vegetarian alternatives; while the Cheeky Panda produces sustainable daily essentials such as toilet paper and wipes.
Brands that have seen a noticeable improvement in their sustainability scores over the past two years include Heineken, which saw its score rise from 39.7 to 45.5, as well as L’Oréal, which gained 7.3 sustainability points in the last two years.
At the same time, brands have more to do to convince consumers of their concern for the environment, Impact said. A third of consumers however don’t believe claims that brands make about being environmentally-friendly, while 80% of consumers believe that companies should be more transparent about what they are doing to help the environment.
Two thirds (65%) of consumers say they want to know what brands are currently doing to be environmentally-friendly, not what they plan to do, according to Impact.
"Driven by increasing media attention, sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers," said Tom Gould, research director and head of the consumer and services team at Impact. "For example, 64% say that their views of plastic packaging have been influenced by what they see in the news. Our study shows that consumers want to see brands addressing the issues they see talked about in the media.
"It’s more important than ever that brands are communicating environmental issues in the right way and in the right places not only to be taken seriously by consumers, but to avoid controversy."
Methodology: Impact spoke to 6,000 consumers from a nationally representative sample of UK adults in April 2021, to find out consumers’ behaviour and attitudes towards the environment, who they believe is responsible for tackling climate change and their perceptions of sustainability amongst 64 retailers and 100 FMCG brands.