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Businesses need to “effectively communicate” their green credentials

New research suggests that most consumers are more likely to buy from companies with a positive approach to sustainability, but businesses are failing to communicate their commitments effectively.

New research suggests that most consumers are more likely to buy from companies with a positive approach to sustainability, but businesses are failing to communicate their commitments effectively.

The survey of 1,005 consumers, carried out by energy broker SmartestEnergy, found that 81 per cent were likely to buy a sustainable brand or product if given the choice and 87 per cent wanted brands to act immediately to help maintain a sustainable environment.   

Consumer boost

The findings are supported by Ethical Consumer’s latest annual Markets Report, which reports that consumer spending on ‘green and ethical goods’ rose by nine per cent in 2013.

Despite a 55 per cent drop in the market for micro-renewables technologies such as solar PV, 2013 saw a 78 per cent boost in the market for ultra-low emission vehicles, 58 per cent growth in green electricity tariffs, 14 per cent growth in energy efficient boilers and 25 per cent growth in energy efficient lighting. 

Communication failure

However, the results of SmartestEnergy’s survey also suggest that companies are not communicating their commitments effectively enough to consumers, with 45 per cent of those surveyed unaware of the sustainability practices that brands have adopted. 

In particular, only 40 per cent of those surveyed were aware of brands ensuring that their supply chains met environmental standards.

Mike Shirley, hard of marketing at SmartestEnergy, said: “Our research shows that consumers’ attitudes towards sustainability influences their relationships with brands.

“Brands need to effectively communicate what they are doing across their whole business to showcase their green credentials.”

Supply chains

Separate research recently published by global procurement services firm, Achilles, suggests that communication is only half the battle – with many businesses still yet to engage their supply chains in sustainability initiatives.

A survey of 106 large construction, engineering, utilities and manufacturing firms across the UK found that while 59 per cent have a company-wide programme to monitor or record their direct carbon emissions, only 19 per cent monitor the emissions of their main suppliers.

Adrian Chamberlain, chief executive of Achilles, said: “It’s impossible for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint unless they measure and monitor emissions within their own organisations and their supply chains.

“The smartest firms can make sustainable cost savings and protect ever-tightening margins by cutting carbon and cost through the life cycle of projects.”