Almost 70% of consumers would consider switching brands if one was more environmentally-friendly than the other, new research has shown.
The study, commissioned by Forum for the Future with leading aluminum manufacturer Novelis, found that waste featured as one of the top concerns for companies to tackle, with consumers prepared to boycott brands they consider to be acting irresponsibly.
This comes off the back of the decision by Novelis to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into new technology to hugely increase the recycled content in beverage cans to over 90%.
John Gardner, vice-president and chief sustainability officer at Novelis, said the firm “understands that we are all facing the same set of sustainability drivers – increased consumer preferences, societal demands and natural resource constraints”.
He added, “Rather than fight the inevitable and operate behind the curve, we prefer to challenge our peers, our customers and the industry to adapt, find new solutions and lead the marketplace in sustainable innovation.”
Meanwhile Sarah Tulej, senior sustainability adviser at Forum to the Future, said about the research, “This is important because it gives an additional incentive for companies to create more sustainable products, not just for efficiency reasons or to address their supply chain impacts, but because it also has a real impact on how people perceive their brand.”
The research could mean a new way of thinking for brands. It found that people want to buy from brands that have a positive social and environmental impact and this is expected to continue in the future.
Anna Simpson, editor of Forum for the Future’s magazine Green Futures and author of The Brand Strategist’s Guide to Desire, said if brands don’t change their models to reflect the growing interest in sustainable issues, they will “fail on three fronts”.
She explained, “For one, they will come into difficulties in supply management and carbon regulation. Two, they will lose the trust of their audience. Three, they will miss out on the opportunities for innovation that come through recognition of resource constraints.”
Simpson added, “The brands that communicate their credentials most successfully, I argue, will be those who understand that delivering value of any kind in the long-term absolutely depends on lasting environmental resources.”
Many brands are already taking the issue of sustainability seriously and it is hoped this latest research project will go some way into encouraging more companies to take the next step.
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