The influence of sustainability on NZ consumers

NZ consumers want brands to be more open about sustainability, study finds.

New Zealanders believe electricity retailers and supermarkets are doing the most to be more sustainable, however, they want brands in all industries to be more open and upfront about sustainability, and actively communicate it.

The findings of the In Good Company report released today demonstrate that sustainability is not just something they care about when making a purchase, but it is contributing to how they choose what to buy.

Commissioned by the Sustainable Business Council, Porter Novelli and Perceptive, the findings reveal how New Zealanders assess the sustainability of brands and showcases where there are significant opportunities for business leadership.

More than 2,000 New Zealanders took part in the study which looked at eight industry sectors including; automobile, broadband and mobile, fashion/apparel, financial institutions, electricity, fuel and large retailers, as well as supermarkets.

With sustainability a concern for 87 per cent of New Zealanders, and 18 per cent of those surveyed unable to identify a leader in the area, Abbie Reynolds, executive director of Sustainable Business Council, says businesses need to step up to the challenge.

“New Zealand businesses are increasingly embedding sustainability into their strategies and business practice; however, many businesses are reluctant to talk about what they’re actually doing.

“In many cases, it’s a matter of ‘green hush’, rather than greenwash. This research shows there is an important opportunity for business in New Zealand to show leadership, “Reynolds said.

Depending on the sector, between 47 per cent (financial institutions) and 68 per cent (large retailers), say they care about the sustainability of brand products when purchasing from that sector.

Between 34 per cent (broadband/mobile retailer) and 51 per cent (large retailer) say their purchase decisions are influenced by how sustainable a brand or product is across industries.

James Walker, executive director for Sustainability at Porter Novelli said, “Customers are increasingly becoming more likely to research the sustainability practices of brands, and they are demanding more information. Our research shows that 71 per cent of New Zealanders are actively researching this before making a product purchase and that’s a sign that businesses need to step up.

“Respondents said that they want brands to be more honest and transparent, as well as promoting the sustainability activity that is being undertaken. If customers don’t know what businesses are doing to become more sustainable, how can they choose them for it?” Walker continues.

Despite the results from the research providing insight into what business sustainability leadership looks like to New Zealanders, those involved in the research say it’s important to recognise that perception does not always equal reality. Brands should consider both what they’re actually doing to operate more sustainably and how this is being perceived by customers.

Oliver Allen, general manager at Perceptive, said: “What’s interesting about these findings, is that sustainability is not just something New Zealanders care about, it’s also increasingly impacting their purchase decisions.

“Choosing a brand that operates in a sustainable manner falls just behind quality and price but ranks higher than customer service and recommendations from friends and family. This is something which brands should be taking note of across the board.”

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