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Companies failing with ‘difficult-to-find’ sustainability info

New research shows that companies are missing out on sales by failing to provide detailed sustainability information about their products, with consumers also suspicious of ‘cause-washing’.


According to a study of nearly 5,700 consumers in the US and Europe, software company Productsup found that knowing more information about a product is one of the top factors that would entice consumers to shop with a different brand or retailer.

Information ‘difficult to find’

Sustainability information was revealed to be particularly important. Two thirds of respondents said they were more likely to purchase products if sustainability information is well-presented.

Ensuring a product would not end up in landfill was a notable priority, with respondents preferring to purchase products that are reusable (71 per cent) or recyclable (70 per cent).

However, around a third of those surveyed said information on a product’s reusability or recyclability is difficult to find (34 per cent and 30 per cent respectively).

Consumers wise to greenwashing and ‘cause-washing’

The research also shows that providing further explanation on what makes a product organic, free-range, or eco-friendly is the leading factor in boosting trust in ethical brands and products for 43 per cent of people.

Conversely, supporting causes in line with sustainability labels (27 per cent), partnerships with NGOs (26 per cent) and positive press about ethical practices (22 per cent) were the least influential factors, as they could be seen as ‘cause-washing’.

Similar to greenwashing, where companies mislead customers (unintentionally or otherwise) into believing they or their product is doing more for the environment than it is in reality, cause-washing is where a company uses support for social causes to falsely improve their image.  

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