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New Research: Consumers believe fighting climate change good for economy

30 October 2008
New Research: Consumers believe fighting climate change good for economy

Most people in the UK (53 per cent) think tackling climate change will boost the economy, according to new consumer research published today by The Climate Group, in partnership with brand strategy and design consultancy Lippincott and the UK's leading entertainment and communications company, Sky.

Despite high-street gloom, the research reveals that British consumers remain unshaken on the environment: UK consumer commitment to personally do something about climate change by making a significant effort in how they live their lives today, even among those who feel financially worse off, is up nine percent from last year to 24 per cent.

There is widespread belief that tackling climate change will not cost individuals money (58 per cent of people) and recognition that you can actually save money by combating climate change (almost 40 per cent of people). Results show that, as they tighten their belts, people are much more prepared to make changes to their lifestyle and spend extra time to fight climate change. But they do not want to pay a premium to go green, with only 13 per cent prepared to spend extra money.

Most people recognise that they "could do more", particularly when choosing a greener energy provider, improving energy efficiency in the home and shopping for food and household goods. The number of Britons who feel they are doing "as much as they can" for the climate has increased since 2007 (from 13 per cent to 18 per cent).

said: "Clearly commitment to tackling climate change has strengthened for Britain's cash-strapped consumers. The firm belief amongst individuals that fighting climate change will boost the economy suggests that people will expect business and government to stick to their climate change commitments through the current economic downturn and make it easier and cheaper for everyone to do their bit. It's vital that, in the current situation, we seize the opportunity to tackle economic and climate issues together."

David Hall, Campaign Director of The Climate Group

Simon Glynn, Senior Partner at Lippincott said: "UK consumers are increasingly committed to tackling climate change, despite challenging economic times and do not see any competition between the two. They are prepared to alter their behaviour to effect a change, but don't recognise the lead we know businesses are already taking. Businesses need to improve the way they connect with consumers, by recognising the roles that consumers are asking them to play and choosing carefully where their brands can have the greatest impact."

Ben Stimson, Director of Reputation and Responsibility at Sky said: "People want to know that brands are not only delivering great products and services, but are also taking action on the issues that concern them. It's clear that consumers want to tackle climate change, but they want to do it in a way that's economical and easy. And this is where there's a big opportunity for brands to give their consumers the tools and solutions that help them do that."

The research "Consumers, Brands and Climate Change 2008" - now in its second year - explores trends in consumer attitudes and buying behaviours to brands on climate change. It was commissioned by international non-profit organisation The Climate Group, in partnership with global brand strategy and design consultancy Lippincott and UK broadcaster Sky.




2008 Climate Brand Index



2 M & S

3 E.ON

For the second year, the UK's Climate Brand Index is dominated by retail organisations, with Tesco retaining its top spot and M & Smaking a surge up to a strong second place. Energy suppliers also showed more strongly with newcomers E.On and British Gas displacing BP to join the UK 'top five'. Respondents were asked which brands they regarded as taking a lead in battling climate change.



The list confirmed for the second year running that there is still significant opportunity for brand leadership and connection with consumers on climate change, as two thirds of Britons (66 per cent) were still unable to name a brand leading on the issue. Again, research showed people continue to look to mainstream brands - not niche green specialists - for climate solutions.

Other influences on consumer buying behaviour

UK research shows that, when presented with a clear choice, consumers tend to be more motivated by practical solutions that enabled them to cut their own carbon footprint (such as renewable energy, energy efficient light bulbs, 'green' bank accounts, fuel efficient cars, appliances with automatic switch-off) over corporate statements and labels such as 'carbon-neutral'.

Research showed that consumers can be very sensitive to negative press criticism, particularly if company claims are exposed as 'greenwash'. 30 per cent of people said they would definitely consider buying products or services from one retailer after reading its corporate stance, but after seeing a critical media report

appetite dropped by nearly half to only 16 per cent.

The reverse was also true and UK consumers responded positively to good news stories in the media. NGO endorsement through campaigns such as Together ( was also a powerful factor. For instance, hearing that a company was "a member of a campaign run by an independent charity, which gives

people easy ways to fight climate change in their everyday lives" lifted likelihood to buy or use a product or service by an average of 8 per cent".

David Hall, Campaign Director of The Climate Group, said: "People look to brands for value and values. While consumers clearly respond well to brands offering them a helping hand in tackling their own carbon footprints, commitments in a CSR report do matter for other influential stakeholders who impact on consumer choice. Successful corporate climate strategies need to bind innovative consumer solutions with consistent and effective corporate commitments."

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