A new study by global consumer insights agency InSites Consulting has revealed 92% of South Africans say the topic of sustainability is important to them, yet only 58% claim to be living sustainably.
The report, entitled Conscious Consumption, is aimed at assessing consumer sentiment and behaviour regarding sustainability among four generations. in South Africa.
Among those consumers acting more sustainably, the majority report to be using up leftovers (86%), limiting water use at home (84%), and mending/repairing household items rather than replacing them (80%).
“Sustainability is not a problem that governments alone can solve; businesses also have to pull their weight. It is a shared responsibility that needs to be addressed today. Brands need to take up their societal role and take consumers along their journey through active and transparent communication. The time for brands to act is now, because in the end, good business is good business”, said Joeri van den Bergh, partner and sustainability expert at InSites Consulting.
The say-do gap
The ‘sustainability paradox’ i.e. the gap between acknowledgement (92% importance score) and action (42% not living sustainably), must be tackled by brands, according to the 86% of consumers who believe that “companies have a responsibility to take care of the planet”.
So, what are the barriers that brands can help consumers overcome? According to the InSites Consulting study, 74% of consumers said sustainable living must be more accessible (i.e. options more widely available); and 60% would adopt a more sustainable lifestyle if it required less time or effort.
73% of South Africans report that they would adopt a more sustainable lifestyle if it was clear which brands are sustainable; this is a call to action for brands. Those that claim to be (more) sustainable are perceived as more trustworthy (62%), more up to date (66%), and providing a higher level of quality (65%) according to South Africans.
Unfortunately, 70% of South African consumers have never heard of B Corp Certification, and just 4% have seen the label on packaging.
‘Buy’cotting on the rise
For those consumers who are aware of brands’ sustainability efforts (or lack thereof), boycotting is one way to express discontent. 18% of South Africans today report that they have boycotted a brand for sustainability reasons, specifically due to brands lacking gender equality support (24%) and the absence of recycling programs (24%).
There is a rallying cry from consumers at either end of the awareness spectrum, for better behaviour from brands.
The facts and figures in this press release are based on a study conducted by InSites Consulting in March 2022, among 803 respondents from four generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and Generation Z) in South Africa. The sample is representative for each generation. The report can be downloaded here.
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