NewYork, 07.10.2019

With climate concerns growing, consumers expect greater environmental awareness, transparency from brands

New GfK Consumer Life insights show US consumers are more skeptical about product claims, business practices

New research from GfK Consumer Life shows how growing concern about the environment is transforming consumer relationships with brands – in the US more than other regions. 

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The latest insights from Consumer Life’s 22nd annual global survey show that climate change is the fastest-growing personal concern worldwide, now standing at #6 among 21 concerns tracked. And environmental pollution ranks as the #2 concern globally – rising to #1 in countries such as China, India, and Austria.     

In addition, consumers are now more likely to agree with socially conscious attitudes than they were just three years ago – for example:

  • “I feel guilty when I do something that is not environmentally friendly” – agreement is up 9 percentage points since 2016
  • “I go out of my way to make sacrifices for the good of the planet” – up 7 points since 2016

But brands seeking to capitalize on this climate concern need to take care, because consumers – especially in the US – display marked skepticism about products that claim to be socially conscious or environment friendly. Almost half (47%) of consumers globally, and 57% in the US, say they have doubts about environmental claims on packaging and in advertising. 

Even more (56%) global consumers report having doubts about companies that claim to have environmentally sound business practices; that proportion rises higher in the US, to 64%. And almost one-third (29%) globally say that environment-friendly products simply do not work as well as others.

“It is essential that brands, retailers, and others understand the nuances of consumer decision making on topics as complex as the environment,” said Eric Wagatha, Director of GfK Consumer Life in North America. “By aligning themselves with deeply held needs and desires, companies can position themselves in the comfort zones of their most important customers. But brands need to be sure they are living up to their promises – green-washing can be a kiss of death for marketers. With climate change turning environmental consciousness into a very personal issue for many consumers, companies cannot afford to be casual or glib about socially conscious marketing.”

GfK Consumer Life is the longest-running and most comprehensive study of changing values and lifestyles around the world. The 25+-country database and related perspectives provide a rich understanding of key markets and categories – both today and tomorrow.   

Consumer Life defines and anticipates new consumer opportunities and emerging needs, revealing

  • what are the big consumer trends and market disruptors today, and how this is likely to change in the future
  • how peoples' values and lifestyles are evolving – and why this may impact major product categories
  • how the generations and other cohorts are different or the same – and what companies can do to meet their needs

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