Consumers are calling on brands to take responsibility for reducing the impact of climate change as governments fail to make progress, according to research by Havas Media.
In two-thirds of the markets researched (UK, US, Mexico, Brazil, Germany and France) people felt more strongly that companies and their brands should be finding solutions compared to the government.
The research paints a picture of a world that has given up on its elected leaders’ abilities to combat the problem, with only 11 percent of all respondents agreeing strongly that their governments are doing enough to arrest climate change.
This leadership vacuum presents an opportunity for companies and their brands to step in and take a wider role in addressing climate change. All markets express a clear desire to see more ecologically responsible brands and believe multinationals can, and should, make a positive impact on the issue. Consumers, however, are still very confused about the issue of climate change and look to brands for clearer communication on the issue.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of who is credibly making changes and who is not, despite green stereotypes associated with different sectors. The result: green marketing strategies and good environmental practices are no longer a “nice to have” for brands, but increasingly a “must have” in terms of not only maintaining brand image but also in maintaining market share.
Consumers will pay a premium
The survey stated that 79% of consumers said they would rather buy from companies doing their best to reduce their impact on the environment. Further, 89% are likely to buy more green goods in the next 12 months and 35% are willing to pay a premium for those goods. When it comes to actually buying green, 80% of our respondents said they would buy more if more were on offer. The report concludes that companies should not make the mistake of confusing loyalty with a lack of consumer choice.
Branding strategies and sectors – definitions become more complex
The survey suggests consumer awareness of the damage done by particular companies and sectors is growing increasingly sophisticated, and that companies which fail to act responsibly can no longer expect to hide behind generally positive perceptions of the sector in which they operate.
For example, some brands within banking – which, as a sector, is ranked more environmentally correct than the oil and fuel industries – were considered less environmentally friendly than some of the more proactive oil and fuel brands.
And yet there are also clear incentives for companies in less environmentally-respected industries to improve their performance. The strongest-performing brands in the energy sector were considered more environmentally virtuous than those in relatively neutral sectors, which are perceived to have done little ecological damage, such as media and finance.
The report defines this phenomenon as “sector stretch” – as consumers become more educated in green matters, they are beginning to distinguish between companies without resorting to sector stereotypes. This is great news for brands that communicate legitimate abatement strategies and less good for those who have not yet made a start on mending their ways, as their ability to borrow credibility from more proactive peers slips away.