Just 23% of consumers take environmental claims and initiatives from businesses at face value, according to a new survey by Sensu Insight, an industry-leading research, measurement and evaluation consultancy.
According to the 50 Shades of Greenwashing report, almost a third (30%) of Britons expect environmental claims from companies to be slightly exaggerated, while 14% say they don’t believe them at all.
This is mainly because the majority of people (71%) assume that claims are unlikely to be verified or checked by independent experts or regulators and consider them untrustworthy.
A survey of 1,682 adults in the UK also revealed some degree of disagreement between the sectors we believe most and least when it comes to ESG claims. Airlines are the least trusted, with more than a third (35%) saying they are less likely or unlikely to believe their claims. Respondents also appeared skeptical of fashion brands’ claims, with 29%% saying they were unlikely or very unlikely to trust them.
The companies most likely to be trusted for their ESG claims are supermarkets (52% – likely or very likely to trust) and food or beverage brands (46%).
Respondents were also asked whether they believed their business motivations were genuine. Only one in 10 of her respondents (10%) said she believed companies were genuinely in the best interests of the planet. Only 12% of her respondents said they believe companies are greener than they were five years ago.
When asked who they thought were the most reliable sources of environmental claims, The Energy Saving Trust (63% likely to believe), pressure groups such as Greenpeace (56%), and international organizations such as the United Nations (56%) ) and other commentators responded. go up.
Sensu Insight Managing Director Steve Leigh commented: We live in increasingly cynical times, and accusations of “fake news” make us more likely to question everything we hear.
“When such suspicion is amplified through social media, it can feel like all the ‘facts’ are being questioned and undermined. becomes particularly difficult.
“We have been tracking news and conversations related to greenwashing and related subjects for two years.
“For the airline, the lawsuit filed against KLM has undermined confidence in the sector, with environmentalists using legal action to challenge the brand’s ‘fly responsibly’ campaign. It was the most prominent example. ”
Leigh offers the following advice to companies trying to communicate integrity about their ESG initiatives:
“For companies to communicate their credibility and launch new sustainability initiatives effectively, they must communicate with transparency and integrity. All messages must be consistent and backed by independent evidence. It is important to make sure that you are well-informed, as this will most likely earn the trust of the public and other organizations.
“The most effective communication is often bolstered by authoritative professionals and reflected in all of an organization’s operations.
“Finally, it is important to listen carefully to how stakeholders respond, participate, and adapt to areas of improvement. ESG programs involve a certain amount of compromise. It’s important to explain that it’s part of an ongoing and evolving strategy.”