UK Consumers Prioritise Sustainability Practices Of Brands, Study Finds
A majority of consumers (61%) in the UK expect the brands that they buy from to have clear sustainability practices, a new survey by Smurfit Kappa has revealed.
The Balancing Sustainability and Profitability Survey, conducted among 200 senior executives and 1,500 consumers in the UK, examined the views of businesses and consumers on sustainability.
The study found that 65% of consumers still considered price as a key factor influencing their purchasing decision.
However, more than half of the respondents said they purchased have a product (in the past six months) specifically because it had reusable or biodegradable packaging.
Around 56% of consumers said that they have paid more for a product or service that was sustainably sourced.
'Driven By Consumers'
Commenting on the study, Steven Stoffer, Group VP of sustainability and development at Smurfit Kappa, said, “In the past, sustainability was considered more of a corporate topic, but now the sustainability agenda is being driven by consumers.
“While this survey was conducted just before the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing growing evidence that these trends will continue as our economies begin to re-open.”
The survey found 63% of the businesses state that their attitude towards sustainability is customer driven.
Half of the organisations participating in the survey said that greater customer awareness about the effect of their sustainability practices would be most beneficial to their long-term impact, the study noted.
The research also revealed that 69% of consumers find it difficult to understand whether brands practice sustainability.
Stoffer explained, “This suggests there is a knowledge gap between brands and consumers and indicates there is an onus on brands to better communicate what they are doing in the area of sustainability.
"In general, more education is necessary and if brands can get this right, it will hugely strengthen the brand/customer relationship.”
The survey identified improved customer experience or satisfaction as the leading metric for businesses in the UK (58%) to measure return on investment from sustainability practices.
However, it also noted that only 18% of organisations are measuring their sustainability plans at present, with four in 10 businesses saying that measurement is the main barrier to implementing sustainable practices.
Around 82% of participating organisations said that they treat sustainability as a long-term investment, rather than a cost.
While sustainability is changing the rules of financial reporting in nearly three-quarters of businesses, less than half of these organisations have the ability to link sustainability to financial results.
Ken Bowles, chief financial officer of Smurfit Kappa, said, “This survey highlights now more than ever the need to create an environment where businesses can embrace sustainable practices without the pressure of additional costs.
“This will require a multi-stakeholder dialogue between industry, government, regulators and consumer representatives to ensure a collective approach is agreed to make the financial case for sustainability more accessible for businesses.”
The survey also revealed that 83% of respondents described sustainability as a business opportunity that remains to be exploited.
Tony Smurfit, Group CEO of Smurfit Kappa, said, "Sustainability is a catalyst for growth, but businesses will need to strike a balance between sustainability practices and profitability if they are going to ensure long-term stakeholder buy-in.
"Those businesses that see the value of investing now for the long-term, will be positioned to win in the future."
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.