Insight: #TheAttenboroughEffect, 53% reduce disposable plastic use over 12 months – GlobalWebIndex

A new study by GlobalWebIndex into sustainable packaging in the UK and US highlights 53% of consumers state they have reduced the amount of disposable plastic they are using in the last 12 months.

According to the study of 3,833 consumers across both regions, 42% of consumers say products that use sustainable materials are important when it comes to their day-to-day purchases, marking the impact of awareness raising initiatives over the last 12 months including David Attenborough’s acclaimed TV series Blue Planet II and Our Planet released on Netflix on April 5th.

In the UK, 82% of respondents who value sustainable packaging say it’s important to them because they’re concerned about the future of the environment. Beyond a general concern for the environment, in the UK, motivations for buying sustainable packaging are more self-directed; focused on a personal desire to be less wasteful.

Importantly, 3 in 10 consumers do not feel they currently have enough information about what packaging can be recycled. Notably, there is a significant difference in this perceptions held by women and men, 44% and 29% respectively. Of those, 41% say it’s because brand campaigns don’t give them enough information.


Can you afford to save the planet?

As consumers get older, the gap between affordability and sustainability increases. For example, affordability is more important in day-to-day purchases for consumers aged 55-64 than it is for consumers aged 16-24. In fact, there’s a 20 percentage-point difference between the age groups when it comes to affordable products. Clearly, sustainable materials are more of a consideration for younger consumers.

Moreover, the data shows that Generation Z are 26% more likely to be swayed by other people’s opinion compared to the average internet user. Their increased exposure to social media and impressionability has magnified the plastics revolution.

Chase Buckle, Trends Manager, GlobalWebIndex comments, “It may come as a shock to some that the younger consumers are more considerate about sustainable materials than older generations. What is important to note, is that the younger generations grew up during the height of the sustainability crisis with high-profile, environmentalist documentaries widely available on the content platforms they prefer over conventional TV.”

Never Waste a Crisis: The Opportunity for Brands

Consumer mindsets are guided mostly by media sources and peer groups, though 1 in 4 internet users say brand messaging has the biggest impact in guiding their views on sustainability.

In the US and UK, 2 in 3 consumers think brands that make a public promise to be sustainable are more trustworthy. Sustainable packaging is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have for any brands looking to future-proof their operations against the rising tide of consumer scrutiny.

Interestingly 60% of consumers say they’re likely to switch to a brand that is more environmentally friendly than their current brand.

Chase continues “There’s a ‘catch-22’ here. Consumers are still very price-conscious and yet there is an opportunity for brands to capitalise on consumer perceptions surrounding sustainable packaging of products. Managing these different pressures is no small hurdle for manufacturers and brands to overcome. Sustainability isn’t just another buzzword. Consumers genuinely care, and they’re expecting more from brands than ever before thanks to social media reinforcing a culture of accountability among businesses.”



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