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Sustainability can 'add value and profits' for tech and media firms

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·3-min read
Growing awareness of sustainability issues is influencing consumers' loyalty to brands, according to a study. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters
Growing awareness of sustainability issues is influencing consumers' loyalty to brands, according to a study. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

More than half (56%) of UK consumers are willing to pay slightly more for an environmentally sustainable product or service, according to a survey by EY.

Alongside this, consumers have shown a willingness to compromise for a more sustainable option. Almost half (45%) of consumers would be happy to accept a slightly lower quality product or service where sustainability credentials are strong, the survey of 2,000 people in the UK found.

It showed consumers have become more alert to unethical and unsustainable practices. This has shown a clear desire to act more responsibly to benefit future generations.

This growing awareness is influencing their loyalty to brands; for example, almost two-thirds (63%) of consumers surveyed would switch service providers or suppliers if they were using a significant amount of single-use plastic.

Praveen Shankar, EY’s head of technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) for the UK & Ireland, said: “Sustainability is resonating strongly with the consumers, influencing how they view brands, and is impacting their attitudes towards how they buy products and services.

“TMT providers have a real opportunity to unlock more customer value and differentiate their offering by putting sustainability at the heart of their approach. This will be crucial in maintaining relevance and reaching out to an ethically conscious customer segment.”

READ MORE: Trillions held in financial system 'fuel inequalities' in tackling sustainability

Four-fifths of UK consumers (80%) believe TMT companies should act now to improve sustainability rather than setting long-term targets, with almost a third (32%) more likely to trust companies’ short-term sustainability goals.

However, also crucial to this is a clear and convincing narrative around environmental and ethical objectives to counter disbelief and scepticism that exists among consumers.

71% of consumers think companies only promote sustainability as a PR exercise to “look good” while 69% are sceptical of whether sustainability and ethical sourcing claims by companies are true.

To offset this negative sentiment, companies can be transparent and honest with their sustainability credentials, says EY.

There is clear appetite from consumers to have access to this information to empower them to make better spending decisions — almost two-thirds (65%) of households believe company sustainability credentials should be available and 70% of consumers believe price comparison sites should include sustainability criteria to inform their choices.

READ MORE: COVID-19 presents opportunity to work together on climate goals

The study comes amid reports that the UK government has only invested a fraction of what it needs to to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.

According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the UK government has not yet delivered the scale of investment needed to ensure a low-carbon future.

A new analysis shows that over the course of this parliament the government has committed to investing just 12% of what is needed to meet their net zero emissions target.

The think tank estimates that £33bn ($43.4bn) a year in additional annual investment is needed to meet the net zero target, but only around £4bn annually has so far been committed.

Watch: The £2bn Green Home Grants scheme explained