People willing to drop brands that hurt the planet or society

04 February 2020 ... min read Listen

Consumers believe their choices can positively impact the planet, and most avoid buying products from brands that perform poorly on environmental practices. This is according to new research from ING. But they struggle to change their behaviour because of the 'linear' business practices companies currently follow with their ‘take, make and dispose’ mentality.

illustration: plastic bottles

So what can companies do to transition to circular economy practices to meet consumers’ changing demands?

It starts with addressing what is standing in the way of widespread consumer adoption. Brands need to understand what motivates the different consumer segments, including those who don’t base their buying decisions on environmental factors. According to the report there are three groups of consumers: ‘circular champions’, ‘circular sympathisers’, and ‘non-engagers’.

Despite demanding change, consumers are still opting for existing linear practices. Convenience and cost are the two main barriers they face when trying to shift to a circular economy. Companies should make it easier for them to transition to the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ principles of a circular economy. For example, more than half of consumers still choose low-cost, fast fashion items over more expensive, durable ones. For many, it’s also not common practice to repair their electronic devices because electronic brands don't offer low-cost easy repair services.

Read the full report here.

Highlights from the report

ING’s global research questioned 15,000 consumers about their interactions with fashion, food and electronics brands, and their motivations to embrace – or not – circular economy practices.

To engage with customers, brands must first understand the barriers to widespread consumer adoption. The barriers include:

  • Awareness and education: In the electronics industry, only 21 percent think companies are transparent about the overall environmental impact of their products; 41 percent don’t know where to access repair services; 71 percent aren’t aware of device-sharing platforms; and 39 percent can’t distinguish between recyclable and non-recyclable plastics.
  • Empowerment and reassurance: The top reason for not repairing clothes is consumers’ belief that they don’t have the skills to do so( 48 percent). Data security (42 percent) is the second-most cited concern around leasing electronic devices.
  • Circular infrastructure and convenience: Circular practices are being held back by the perceived effort required: 41 percent think it’s more effort to rent clothes and 36 percent say time is a barrier to repairing devices.
  • Cost: Price is still a decisive factor for many consumers when buying clothes, food or electronic devices. More than half (54 percent) still choose low-cost, fast-fashion items over more expensive, more durable ones.

Methodology

  • Longitude, a division of the Financial Times Group, surveyed 15,001 consumers in 11 countries in Europe, APAC and North America during 3Q and 4Q 2019.
  • A nationally representative sample based on age, gender and income was targeted within each market.
  • Consumers were asked about their attitudes and current interactions with fashion, food and electronics brands, as well as their appetite for emerging product and service models.

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