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Sustainability more important to UK shoppers, but cost and access preventing lifestyle changes

Nearly two thirds (61%) of UK consumers feel sustainability is more important to them than it was two years ago, with 30% saying this was because of personally being impacted by extreme weather events. 

However, while most consumers are taking some action in their lives to live more sustainability, with halftaking their own shopping bags, avoiding waste and minimising electricity usage, global consumers say that cost (41%), access (35%) and a lack of clarity (26%) stop them from adopting more sustainable lifestyles. 

So finds “The Changing Climate of Sustainability“, a new report from Nielsen IQ focused on the impact of climate change on the consumer-packaged goods industry. The study shows that two emerging drivers – the role of governance in mandating sustainability and the exploding costs of climate change on value chains –are creating an outlook of rapid change across the next five to 10 years. This will force companies, manufacturers, brands and retailers to transform and commit to real sustainable business models.

In the UK, the study finds that 55% of consumers say living sustainably is important for society and they try to make sustainable choices when they can, with 18% saying sustainability is an important priority in their daily lives. However, 22% find it difficult to shop for grocery products in a sustainable way, a more significant figure than 5 years ago (16%). As a result, 30% are less likely to stop buying if a brand is found guilty of greenwashing, compared to the global average of 23%.

This compares with the global view, where three quarters of consumers (76%) are calling out for companies to take initiative to reduce their environmental footprint, with 78% of global consumers say companies should be mandated to give full transparency into their supply chain so shoppers can make informed choices.

Of those consumers that said sustainability is more important in the last two years, 54% said it was because it’s in the news all the time, 48% said that they were more informed about sustainability, 47% said that their health and safety has been or could be impacted by climate change.  Some 79% of global respondents stated they were very likely to choose a particular retailer if they offered a wider assortment of sustainable options in-store.

“Consumers around the globe are more committed to sustainability but have found it difficult to make daily decisions that create real impact,” says Nicole Corbett, Vice President Global Thought Leadership, NielsenIQ. “They want help to live and consume in a sustainable way that aligns with other daily pressures. It’s critical to note that they also think that the responsibility to lead sustainability lies with retailers and manufacturers. Unfortunately, examples of greenwashing and inaction mean they have varying levels of trust in these parties to deliver. We are now at a tipping point, where companies that have been proactive and genuine about climate action will be at a massive advantage as industries scramble to meet requirements and mandated sustainable efforts.” 

Corbett continues: “To meet targets that will become increasingly stringent over the next 10 years, we anticipate a great deal of scrambling from companies that realise it’s crunch time. Businesses will look for easy wins in the short-term but the game changer is the requirement to report and validate their footprint of emissions and resource use across their whole value chain. This will require a long-term shift and for many a departure from how they currently operate.”

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