Consumers are more likely to think their country is suffering from climate change rather than causing it
Consumers around the world are more likely to think their country is suffering from climate change than it is causing it, according to the latest research from the all-new Mintel Sustainability Barometer. On average, 44% of consumers around the world say the country they live in suffers from climate change, while an average of 33% believe the country they live in contributes to climate change.
Consumers in Italy (20%), Brazil (21%), South Korea (24%) and Spain (29%) are among the least likely to believe their country is contributing to climate change. In contrast, those in the United Kingdom (44%), Germany (45%) and the United States (46%) are among the most likely to believe their country has a role to play, peaking in Canada where more half (51%) of consumers believe this to be true.
New Mintel sustainability barometer presents research and information on sustainability attitudes, behaviors and purchasing preferences of consumers in 16 countries, and offers recommendations for brands based on the best innovations, communications and campaigns.
Richard Cope, Senior Trends Consultant, Mintel Consulting, said:
“There seems to be a sustainability gap – a stark difference between consumers’ experience with the causes of climate change and the reality of where the responsibilities lie. We are seeing a divide in some large producing countries like Brazil, where consumers view the responsibility for climate change through deforestation as an external problem, which is actually due to foreign demand for meat, soybeans and timber. In the case of many European markets, their emissions are exported to manufacturing countries, such as China, but this seems lost on consumers when they consider and attribute responsibility for climate change. “
“One of the main challenges for businesses and brands is how to effectively bridge this understanding gap in order to better position their products and services as part of the sustainability solution. It will require more education on the uncomfortable realities if more consumers are to get involved in the environmental issues and products. More and more companies must take the initiative to affirm their positive references, but also to explain what they consider to be the real problems of society, as well as their main business challenges. Messages and campaigns will have more impact if brands coordinate with government efforts or embrace the times for environmental awakening documentaries like Seaspiracy and Kiss the Ground.
Consumers hold companies most responsible for improving environmental and social standards
When it comes to who is most responsible for sustainability issues, consumers say companies are most responsible for a whole host of issues. Almost half (48%) of global consumers believe that companies are responsible for the increase in the amount of recycled packaging, while only a quarter (25%) believe that the responsibility lies with consumers and only a fifth ( 20%) to governments. Meanwhile, two in five consumers (41%) globally believe companies are responsible for reducing emissions from air travel, compared with 36% who think it’s up to governments, and just 12% who think it is. t is the responsibility of consumers.
“Given that the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that more than half of the cumulative emission reductions needed to reach zero are linked to consumer choices, one can hope that consumers accept more responsibility. There are several possible reasons why they instead put the burden on businesses. More effective activism, for example, fosters the belief that businesses are to blame, while the scale of the problem demands a response beyond the capabilities of mere consumers. It is also likely that the blame game stems from consumers ‘sense of betrayal about packaging and recycling, with some companies’ information on what can be recycled being too opaque and governments ‘disposing’ of sorted waste and recycled by exporting them for landfill and incineration. Richard continued.
Consumers get a feel for how businesses can help
When asked what encourages them to buy products or services that claim to benefit / protect the environment, consumers are most likely to want information on how their purchase has a direct impact, such as a planted tree per purchase (48%) and this is highest in India at 56%. They are also looking for labeling to show the environmental impact, such as the CO2 emitted (47%). Just over two in five (42%) are looking for information measuring impact with amounts they can understand, such as liters of water used or distance traveled in kilometers and this is in China (54% ). Meanwhile, 41% are looking for a recognizable certification to prove their standards, like B-corp.
“Consumers want businesses to use simple terms and data and explain the direct and measurable environmental impact of their purchases. To build confidence in science and convert potential into real purchases, companies need to come up with a new lexicon of sustainability that consumers can easily understand. “
“In addition to wanting third-party accreditation, it’s notable that consumers want to understand their personal impact through purchasing in order to support their belief that their purchases can have a positive impact on the environment. These challenges are analogous to those related to nutrition labeling of foods, so it makes sense that a sustainable ‘traffic light system’ is put to the test this fall by brands like Nestlé and major UK supermarkets. United. This promises to marry visual convenience with the rigor of an objective, quantified third-party qualification. However, consumers will want the opportunity to learn more about how and where the product’s footprint is measured. Richard concludes.
Note to editors
The Mintel Sustainability Barometer presents research and information on consumer attitudes, behaviors and purchasing preferences regarding sustainability; 500 internet users aged 16 / 18+ in 16 countries were surveyed in March 2021.