It’s Not Me, It’s You: Consumers Pressure Big Businesses to Act on Climate
Consumer Insights Research Team
Nov 27, 2019
Consumers are no longer buying green marketing messages from big businesses.
This skepticism comes at a time of rising consumer fears about climate change. More than half of consumers say they are more concerned about the climate than they were two years ago, and 59% live in communities with recent first-hand experience with climate-related events such as wildfires or floods. Overall, there is consensus that climate change is a pressing issue.
Consumers also agree on who is responsible, with 59% saying that big businesses are the biggest contributors to climate change. Yet people don’t believe businesses will address climate concerns unless forced to by the government. Consumers used to give points to businesses that took any climate action, but business-led climate initiatives today are often viewed with skepticism and criticized if consumers think the company is taking simple actions that amount to green-washing.
Soft drink companies, for example, have been the target of consumer activists who want them to do more to curb plastic waste. Activists have used demonstrations, litigation, and social media shaming to push businesses to act. Consumer green activism is also reaching into the political sphere to support candidates who are pro-climate regulation, a move that could cost the beverage industry’s bottom line.
Marketers should recognize that consumers are taking a stand against the businesses they see as climate-change contributors. Their tactics are getting more sophisticated and hitting closer to home in the mode pioneered by organizations like Greenpeace and PETA. Marketers must be proactive. In organizations with no green strategy, marketing can take the lead to advocate for one using evidence of customer concern to make the business argument. Brands with a green program should share it with customers and collect feedback on what to do next. And green-leading brands can lobby for more aggressive environmental standards that apply to all.