Consumers turned off by retailers who pay ‘lip service’ to sustainability

Half of UK consumers are turned off by retailers who pay ‘lip service’ to sustainability, with 50% saying they won’t shop with retailers who greenwash environmental commitments.

As consumer demand for environmentally-friendly products grows, retailers risk losing customer loyalty if their sustainability efforts aren’t genuine, according to the latest research from the Retail Technology Show.

Almost half (47%) of the 2,000 UK consumers surveyed said they already actively buy more from brands they perceive to be sustainable, with that figure rising to 65% for Gen Z demographics.

The ‘Retail Revolution’ report also showed that demand for sustainable retailing among shoppers is growing, with the green pound estimated to be worth £122bn.

Six in ten (60%) of those polled said retailers’ commitment to sustainability would become more of a factor in their buying decisions over the next five years, rising to 67% for 18-25 year olds. Almost two-thirds (65%) said they will shop more with sustainable brands in the future, while 63% will be more loyal to retailers with green values.

Read more: PrettyLittleThing to launch resale marketplace as it embraces sustainability

Despite this, a separate poll by Retail Insight has revealed that almost two thirds (62%) of consumers do not trust retailers’ and brands’ eco pledges, believing they pay lip-service to sustainability initiatives.

This growing concern around ‘greenwashing’ recently prompted the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to crack down on brands, who will now face fines if they don’t deliver on their environmental claims.

According to Retail Technology Show’s research, this consumer distrust doesn’t just risk possible fines and reputational damage, it risks future sales and lost loyalty too.

The report revealed that half of UK consumers (50%) said they would stop shopping with brands they perceive to be greenwashing, with that figure rising to almost two thirds (63%) of Gen Z shoppers and 59% of Millennials.

“Put simply, greenwashing just won’t wash with shoppers,” said Retail Technology Show event director, Matt Bradley.

“Consumers now expect retailers’ sustainability efforts to be deeply and genuinely rooted in the brands’ psyche, rather than it being any short-termist play.

“That means retail businesses need to carefully consider both how they can evolve their businesses operationally to be greener, and also how this is effectively communicated to shoppers in a genuine, transparent and engaging manner.”

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