Just one fifth of shoppers trust brand sustainability claims

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Just one fifth of shoppers trust sustainability claims made by brands, according to new research from The Knowledge is Power – Consumer Trust in Sustainability Report.

Commissioned by Compare Ethics, the platform building trust and transparency through data-driven sustainable product verification, the report explores the crisis in consumer trust and the move towards sustainability by the retail sector. It reveals that trust is now the key factor in consumer purchase decision-making, but that customers are increasingly suspicious of sustainability claims made by high street retailers.

The research shows a staggering 83% of consumers would be more likely to trust a product’s sustainability claim if it had been verified by a third party, pointing to the vital role of supply chain data in increasing consumer confidence on the authenticity of product claims. With the ethical consumer market standing at over £82 billion in the UK alone, the report indicates that brands must be prepared to validate their sustainability practices if they are to capture these customers.

Over half of consumers (53%) see brands as having the most power to change the garment industry for the better, highlighting the need for accountability and refreshed methods to build trust by all if we are to move to a more sustainable future.

Compare Ethics’ data also points to the need for better education of consumers about the social elements involved in sustainability. For example, nearly three quarters (72%) understand ‘sustainable’ products to be those coming from sustainable sources, yet such sources are often more energy and water intensive across their life cycle. Only 22% of consumers would associate sustainability with a brand paying workers a living wage, highlighting the need to introduce standards around sustainability to build trust and empower shoppers to make informed purchase decisions.

Since 2018, Compare Ethics has strived to build trust in sustainability and connect citizens with products that are authentically ethical and environmentally sound. The company has developed trust signals and verification technology that celebrates sustainability and bold transparency that enables brands to scale their commitments and long-term growth. 

Abbie Morris, CEO and co-founder at Compare Ethics, commented: “The world is at a crucial tipping point when it comes to sustainability and consumers increasingly want to align their spending to their values. Our report shows that without honest sustainability claims and readily available information, shoppers will soon discover the truth. The gamble of greenwashing does not pay off.

“Transparency is essential, but so is tangible evidence on how brands are working towards their sustainability targets. Scaling the use of new trust signals such as third-party verification technology from Compare Ethics will enhance purpose led decision making and boost an organisation’s triple bottom line.”

James Bartle, Founder at Outland Denim, added: “By building genuine connection and trust with those at the beginning of the fashion supply chain, we can build a stronger understanding of how our clothes came to be, and how we can better protect those making them. As consumers move towards buying more ethically, substantive evidence will be required to verify brand practices. Honest, proactive sustainable brands therefore have much to gain.”

Wendy Hammett at the London Fashion Fund said: “In the wake of coronavirus, consumer spending will tighten. Brands must consequently anchor trust into their sustainability credentials, if they are to retain loyalty and market share.”

This was posted in Bdaily’s Members’ News section

Nathan Stennett

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