Brands have seen 18 months of constant flux with Covid-19 creating economic instability across the globe. But as countries slowly open up and businesses start to get back into the office we can see this recovery is coinciding with a pivotal time in the fight against climate change.
To address this shift in consumer sentiment BBC Global News conducted two waves of surveys to obtain in-depth insights into how consumers in Australia and across the globe really feel towards sustainability, focusing on three different sectors – automotive, technology and finance.
The results across the board show that Australia consumers care not only about what your business says but about what it does:
· 81 per cent agree that clearly demonstrating a commitment to sustainability adds value to a brand
· 77 per cent say that they want brands to demonstrate their actual sustainability record alongside their commitments
· 73 per cent are happy to pay more for brands with strong sustainability and eco-friendly practices
· 58 per cent say they would stop buying a product they were previously loyal to if they discovered it was not committed to sustainability
On average, for the 27 brands surveyed across three sectors, around half of all consumers said they are not aware of the brand’s sustainability practices – with finance ranking by far the highest with 63 per cent of all consumers not being aware of financial brands’ sustainability practices. However, it is clear respondents believe it is important for brands from all the surveyed sectors to follow sustainable practices (finance: 67 per cent agree; tech: 80 per cent agree; autos: 88 per cent agree) so there is clearly a gap between the level of awareness and the importance placed on this issue by consumers. This creates an opportunity for those brands which can clearly and effectively communicate their sustainability credentials to claim market share and grow their business in the post-pandemic world.
The research showed that consumers believe that it’s important for all brands’ sustainability practices to involve education and research of consumers. Consumer groups today are looking to brands for guidance, protection and education and 83 per cent of consumers believe that brands should invest in education of consumers about the importance of sustainability, and 82 per cent agree that brands should be financing research for sustainable practices.
Consumers expect brands to not only share their values, but actually help them make greener, more eco-friendly choices and all age groups are taking the time to educate themselves about the brands they bring into their lives. According to the IBM Institute of Business Value 2020 report, consumers are becoming ever more aware of their choices and the expectations and standards they hold brands to – indeed, ‘purpose-driven consumers’ now account for 40 per cent of all shoppers, second only to the traditionally dominant ’value-driven consumer’ (41 per cent).
Jamie Chambers, Vice President, Advertising and Distribution APAC, BBC Global News,said: “The results are again highlighting and reinforcing the importance of a brand’s commitment to their sustainability message for audiences. Customers are getting more and more knowledgeable and are more than willing to penalize brands that don’t share their values in the sustainability space. Brands need to make sure moving forward that they commit not only to educating their consumers but also to really living and telling that message in an authentic, credible and transparent way. Where a brand recognizes it needs help in communicating to audiences, trusted publishers like the BBC can help bridge the gap and shift consumer sentiment, helping grow revenues and build advocacy amongst this valuable consumer segment.”
He added: “When it comes to communicating your brand’s sustainability credentials, it’s important consumers trust you. Awareness of greenwashing is rife, and cynicism of corporate messages in this space can make it challenging for marketers to effectively build sustainability brand credentials. However, the more marketers can build the level of trust consumers have in them, the more effective their marketing strategies can be in this space.”
Edelman Trust Barometer research demonstrates that once brand trust has been achieved brands will see their marketing dollar go further, increasing consumer engagement in their marketing and communications; when consumers trust a brand they are more likely to pay attention to the brand’s advertising and communications, buy the brand, stay loyal and recommend the brand to others*.
IAB Australia research demonstrates how a media environment’s strongest brand attributes can be passed onto brands simply by advertising within those environments, so marketers can cleverly build key brand attributes by weighting investment towards those environments most trusted by their target audience. For those brands wishing to build their brand trust and sustainability credentials, the new research from BBC Global News highlights the effectiveness of partnering with trusted news organisations. It also reveals that branded content within a premium environment is twice as effective (34 per cent) as a brand’s owned and operated channels (16 per cent) when it comes to communicating a brand’s CSR credentials, especially for those brands who aren’t necessarily trusted in the sustainability space already.
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