Research data on consumer behaviour in 2022 has shown that many customers are aware of decarbonisation and net zero, but feel business aren’t doing enough to showcase these efforts.
75% of UK consumers believe that climate change is a serious problem – 77% of them also believe they have a personal responsibility to do something about it.
If your business isn’t yet offering your consumers a means to protect the planet, then you’re missing out on a huge potential purchase motivator. As more consumers realise the existential threat posed by climate change, the more it will become a key part of the consumer decision-making process.
In this article, we’ll explore what research says about those expectations, as well as how your business can satisfy and appeal to consumers by moving towards net zero.
Consumers are often clear about the concept of sustainability and green initiatives, but unclear on the details.
According to a report by Catapult Energy Systems, the majority of consumers believe in the threat of climate change and the need for action. But only a smaller number are aware of the main sources of carbon emissions in their day-to-day lives. Research carried out by Deloitte shows that as many as a third of UK consumers are actively searching for businesses with “strong sustainable and ethical credentials.” Deloitte’s study also shows how strong this desire is, with a third of UK consumers now willing to pay more for sustainable products.
Interestingly, many consumers are unaware of the need to decarbonise emissions, nor about the 2050 carbon neutrality (net zero) targets.
They know about generic measures including recycling and saving energy, but as a follow up very rarely link sustainability to their household energy consumption for example. However, once targets are explained, most people show a new-found enthusiasm about meeting them. There is definite excitement and empowerment in taking climate action.
Alongside their enthusiasm, customers still remain realistic. Some customers are unconvinced that net zero targets are achievable, while most are concerned about what sustainable changes would mean for their lifestyles.
Unlike businesses, consumers do not feel the responsibility to reach net zero emissions lies on them, although some recognise that they will need to play some part in doing so. Most consumers believe the responsibility sits mainly with the government and energy companies. Their belief is that these governing bodies play a much bigger role in making change happen—but they do not always trust that either will do so responsibly.
Many consumers feel that they are already doing their bit for the environment. Generally, through recycling or reducing plastic waste, but in their day-to-day lives, they are not explicitly thinking about how their behaviour impacts the environment. When it comes to changing the way they use energy, they are unsure what steps they should take. They also worry about other people (and nations) not pulling their weight and worry that any significant changes they make themselves are ultimately a waste of time.
Despite acknowledging the need for change in their own lives, for some consumers decarbonisation is confusing and is not a high enough priority for them to make behavioural changes. The biggest concern consumers have is how much any changes would cost them financially. Many feel they are unlikely to make changes to their current energy supply or system without support or guidance.
Overall, whilst most people are supportive of net zero targets and are aware things need to change in order to prevent further climate change, they are put off by the impact that decarbonising might have on their own lives in the short term.
So, consumers are sure they want sustainability and climate action, but they’re not always sure what that looks like. That’s why a truly eco-conscious company should work not only to satisfy these consumer expectations, but also engage them through education. The good news is that the more education businesses can share, the more they will be able to expand their reach into the eco-conscious consumer market.
However, before you start educating, you’ll need to start acting.
The best way to both help the environment and meet consumer expectations is to begin the path to net zero. There are plenty of ways businesses can reduce carbon emissions, but to reach net zero emissions, a long-term, substantial plan is needed. For larger businesses, eradicating emissions completely can be a difficult feat. Many will need to rely on carbon offsets (the process of directly removing carbon from the atmosphere) in order to meet sustainability expectations. While this may sound like an advanced tactic, businesses of any size can contribute to reducing global emissions by building this into their practice.
Organisations like One Tribe can help businesses take effective climate action. By simply donating a small portion of sales to carbon reduction efforts, businesses can track the environmental impact of those contributions and share them with consumers. The same goes for B2B or B2C service providers who want to contribute a part of their revenue toward carbon reduction efforts. Of course, if you run a larger business or one with fewer transactions, you can purchase carbon credits that provide a “lump sum” style of carbon reduction, which can be factored against a business’ total carbon output for a given year.
While it may seem less noble to boast, it is important to show consumers how you have committed your business to help fight climate change. In fact, some even say they need to feel businesses are doing their part before they themselves can commit to taking climate action. Although this can be frustrating, it’s a collective issue that requires moral leadership from the business community.
The good news is that showcasing these efforts is a natural by-product of proper tracking. It can help you give consumers a sense of purpose when purchasing from your business. By helping consumers understand that their payments go to ethical companies and products, you’re also helping them recognise their positive contribution to the economy. So, to that end, every purchase counts.
So, how should you demonstrate to consumers the positive actions you are taking? One great method is tracking your progress in real-time . One Tribe partners like Boult Wade Tennant, a patent law firm, use a custom climate action page to show consumers how many trees they’ve planted or protected (which, by the way, is a stunning 594,885!) among other relevant statistics. Adding a sustainability page to your website is a great way to show customers how you are choosing to take climate action and why it’s important to you and your business.
Another business taking positive climate actions is the fashion brand Koi Footwear, whose climate action page shows they’ve removed enough carbon to equal the emissions of 26,836 cars. These statistics are impressive, verifiable and can be reflected on your website, in-storeand across all online and offline channels as a way to motivate customers and prospects. Using climate action statistics is not only a great way to measure your own progress, but it also helps customers to understand your journey to net zero in a much simpler way. For more on how to market sustainable products or practices, check out our online blog.
Many businesses have taken to social media to market their products or services. But most are still unsure how to effectively engage their target audience on such a diverse and expansive platform. When it comes to talking about climate change and decarbonisation, education is key.
A lack of knowledge about climate change, decarbonisation and net zero has made it very difficult for consumers to understand how businesses are overcoming climate change. That’s why it’s important brands utilise their social platforms to share the highs and lows of their journey to net zero.
Most importantly, brands need to raise awareness and educate their audiences on why they’re reducing emissions and making net zero pledges. Creative campaigns, event days, and even a simple social post can go a long way in helping your customers wrap their heads around the importance of taking climate action.
It’s up to businesses not only to deliver on these expectations by taking steps to reduce carbon emissions and reach net zero, but to show consumers how and why that matters. Not only can you get the “extra credit” of consumer preference, but you can create a better, more eco-friendly economy in the process. The steps you take may inspire consumers to do the same, and that’s the real point of it all: Taking better care of the environment and ensuring our planet’s future.
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Eric currently works as an independent consultant at the intersection of nature and climate, focused on catalysing market and non-market solutions to drive the just transition.
He previously was Head of Product at Earthshot Labs, supporting nature conservation and restoration projects across the global south secure project finance. Prior to Earthshot Labs, Eric led nature-based carbon project development for Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique and founded the Carbon Cooperative, a global alliance of leading nature conservation and restoration practitioners exploring carbon finance. After serving in the Peace Corps in Mozambique out of university, he spent much of his 20s working in community-based conservation and ecosystem restoration efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa interspersed with two startup ventures as co-founder and CEO of a mental health tech startup and COO of a sustainable coffee company. Eric has a dual Masters in Environmental Engineering and Environmental Policy from Stanford University where he was a NSF Graduate Research Fellow and a BS in Environmental Engineering from Tufts University.
Alan is a risk management thought-leader, superconnector, and FinTech pioneer. His mission is to enable an Earth Positive economy which includes nature in global accounting systems.
Alan is Founder of Generation Blue, a venture studio dedicated to planetary game changers powered by exponential technologies. Previously, Alan established Natural Capital Markets at Lykke AG, pioneering blockchain based forestry and carbon backed tokens. Alan has over two decades of risk management experience advising global financial institutions, and was a founding member of the RiskMetrics Group, a JPMorgan spin-off. Alan is an investor and advisor to regenerative impact ventures, including TreeBuddy.Earth, Regenativ, and Vlinder Climate.
Lori Whitecalf made history when she became the first woman to be elected Chief of Sweetgrass First Nation in 2011. She served three terms of office from 2011-2017.
Lori took a two-year hiatus from leadership to expand the family ranch and serve as the FSIN Senior Industry Liaison. She was re-elected on November 29. 2019 and again on November 30, 2021, as Chief of Sweetgrass. Chief Whitecalf practises a traditional lifestyle of hunting, fishing and gathering. She currently sits on the following boards: Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, FSIN Lands and Resource Commission, Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre and Battleford Agency Tribal Chiefs Executive Council, FSIN Women’s Commission.
Tina is the Chief Business Officer for MLTC Industrial Investments, the Economic Development arm of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. She has a diverse background of experience. Having spent 15 years as a municipal Chief Operating Officer, 20 years involved in Saskatchewan’s Health Authority Board Keewatin Yatthe and 9 years with Northern Lights Board of Education.
She continues as a Board Member with Beaver River Community Futures supporting small business development in her home region. Tina brings a wealth of experience in a variety of fields and many connections to the Indigenous communities of Northern Saskatchewan. In addition Tina holds a BA Advanced from the U of S, a Certificate in Local Government Authority from the U of R and is certified as a Professional Economic Developer for Saskatchewan and a certified Technician Aboriginal Economic Developer (TAED).
Tootoosis’ career spans 40+ years in HRM, political leadership, and Indigenous economic development, as a dedicated bridge builder and advocate for Indigenous causes.
As a key member of the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) team since 2021, he develops strategies for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report and Call to Action #92.
He is a graduate of the First Nations University of Canada and a certified Professional Aboriginal Economic Developer. Spearheading various community initiatives while serving as a Chair of the SIEDN while directing ILDII and WIBF. Founder of MGT Consulting Tootoosis is based in Saskatoon, Treaty Six Territory.
Cy Standing (Wakanya Najin in Dakota) has a long and distinguished career including serving overseas as an Electronics Technician in the Royal Canadian Air Force, former Chief of Wahpeton Dakota Nation, former Vice Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indigenous Nations (FSIN), past Executive Director of Community Development Branch of the Department of Northern Saskatchewan as well as an Order in Council appointment to the Federal Parole Board.
Mr. Standing has served as a Director on many Profit and Non-Profit Corporate Boards, including serving as a Director for Affinity Credit Union with assets of over six billion dollars as well as IMI Brokerage and Wanuskewin and is currently a member of the One Tribe Indigenous Carbon Board.