Consumers, Brands and Climate Change 2008 (UK)
- 31 October 2008
Our research, with 1,000 people in each of the UK, U.S. and China, confirms an increasingly receptive market interested
in what companies are doing to tackle climate change and still eager
for them to do more. In the U.S. and UK, where we have year-on-year
data, consumer commitment is rising significantly, and rejecters are a
declining minority. An increasing majority are engaged campaigners and
optimists, segments united in their common commitment to making changes
to their lifestyle to help reduce climate change, but divided by their
differing desires for rational and emotional benefits from doing so.
asked to compare, consumers in all three markets rate climate change a
lower concern than the global economy, but this is a false choice. They
do not see the two as competing issues. The majority (53% in the UK,
63% in the U.S., 46% in China) think combating climate change will
benefit the economy, while only 22%, 23% and 26% respectively think it
will have a negative impact; and 58%, 52% and 67% believe that
combating climate change will not personally cost them money. In any
case, more prefer to contribute by changing their behaviour and by
spending extra time, than by spending extra money - a ranking
consistent in every country and segment where we have conducted
similcommitment to personally do something about climate change by
making a significant effort in how they live their lives today is up
9%pts to 24% in the UK, and 8%pts to 21% in the U.S., despite 67% of
people in the UK and 59% in the U.S. saying they feel financially worse
off than last year.
Yet brands are not connecting well
with this increasingly committed and diverse market. Most people - 66%
in the UK and 65% in the U.S. - could not name a brand that they
believe is taking the lead in tackling climate change, only a small
improvement on last year (69% and 74% respectively). Among consumers
who can identify at least one climate change brand leader, the picture
is surprisingly consistent with last year. Consumers continue to be
willing to give credit to perceived leaders from Big Retail and Big
Energy in the UK, and Big Manufacturing in the U.S. and China - sectors
that can all make a massive impact, directly or indirectly, on carbon
emissions - if those brand leaders can demonstrate and meaningful
stance on climate change.
Tesco heads the UK's ranking for the second year running. GE retains top spot in the U.S., and Haier leads the new Chinese ranking.ar research. As a result, consumer The products, services and corporate stances most favored by consumers are not always those they believe to be most effective in tackling climate change. Brands seeking to build greater connections with consumers on this issue will therefore need to consider carefully how they can have the greatest impact: promote 'big' all encompassing initiatives, or focus on tangible initiatives that consumers are ready to respond to today. In the UK, M&S' 'Plan A' is clearly succeeding with the first approach, and British Gas' focus on energy efficiency with the second. There is more than one answer, and it will be unique for every individual brand.
can be very sensitive to what others say about a brand, and
particularly negative press criticism if claims are exposed as
'greenwash'. However, the reverse is also true: reading 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"
(based on The Climate Group's growing 'Together' campaign) lifted likelihood to buy or use a product or service by an average of 5%pts across the three markets.
Whichever route a brand decides to take, it must make sure the positioning is sustainable from the brand's own perspective.