Consumers Want More Transparent ‘Green’ Messaging From Companies

Our latest Back to Normal Barometer Consumer pulsing unpacks divergent attitudes regarding corporate sustainability messaging 

“Many people feel unsure of the environmental language used by companies and governments,” says Daisy Powell-Chandler, a director at Public First. The policy group recently partnered with Brodie, a sustainability consultancy, to survey more than 2,000 consumers and the findings highlight the difficulties consumers have in assessing green moves by companies.

But this uncertainty does not reflect a lack of awareness and importance towards sustainability and climate issues. As I discussed in an article about the sustainability-minded customer, there is a new era of sustainability unfolding where consumers’ attitudes and values are shaping their lifestyle choices and purchase decisions. What’s more, consumer attitudes are important not just to businesses, but to the climate itself. Researchers believe behavior changes may contribute more than a fifth of the emissions cuts required to reach net zero by 2050.

Fresh insights from New York-based Sports and Leisure Research Group (SLRG) concur. According to the firm’s ongoing Back-To-Normal Barometer, which tracks consumer opinions about a post-pandemic environment and has been featured on CNN, sustainability issues continue to resonate for about one-third of U.S. respondents. And, they say it’s important for them to be aware of the sustainability and corporate responsibility efforts of the brands they use. Additionally, nearly 50% think companies are not moving quickly enough in taking action to address climate change.

However, as Jon Last, President of SLRG, notes in discussing the findings, “We thought it would be valuable to see if there are any partisan preferences and we found that there are some striking differences across party lines.” For instance, while 50% of democrats think companies are not moving fast enough on climate action, only 27% of republicans feel the same. And, democrats are more likely overall than republicans to feel good about the sustainability and corporate responsibility information they are getting from companies.

Perhaps the one place where democrats and republicans agree, according to the latest wave of the Barometer, is that they should ‘buy American.’

With the increased attention to sustainability, ESG and corporate responsibility coming from all sides – consumers, investors, governments and others – researchers recognize more studies are needed to better understand consumer attitudes and preferences about sustainability issues and messaging.