A new study finds that consumers are increasingly looking to brands to take meaningful action on sustainability, we explore the link between brand messaging and consumer action on the environment.

What compels a consumer to be more sustainable? Is it guilt, a reaction to alarming news stories about the environment, a collective wave of societal conscience, or a combination of all three? A new study by MAGNA, the investment and intelligence arm of IPG Mediabrands, has found that a large proportion of consumers are looking towards brands and their marketing communications to motivate them to be more sustainable.

The study surveyed over 9,000 people in the UK, US and Australia to better understand consumer perspectives on sustainability, focusing on the continued barriers that prevent more sustainable lifestyles. What the research found was that people want brands to be a key part of the environmental conversation, with 77% of respondents saying they want brands to take a stance on sustainability, and 75% agreeing that if brands took meaningful action, it would have a tremendous impact on the environment.

Communicating the Climate Crisis

According to the study, there’s no shortage of consumer motivation to halt climate change. Despite the barriers of the expense and lack of access to more sustainable habits and lifestyles, 91% of respondents are willing to do more to reduce their impact on the planet while 99% agree that they can be motivated to take action.

In advertising tests, a brand that offers tangible, relevant environmental data in advertising, such as a statistic on how much water was saved in manufacturing, scores better than ambiguous messaging. In addition, the ability for a brand to define the broad area of sustainability makes a real difference in helping consumers to connect with a company’s environmental actions.

“The climate crisis is, in part, a communication crisis,” said Jonathan Foley, Executive Director of Project Drawdown, an organisation dedicated to climate solutions. “We already have the solutions we need to turn things around, but we are still paralysed by misinformation and fear. We need a clear and compelling vision to move forward – a vision of a better future.”

Actions as Well as Adverts

Of course, as well as their marketing communications, a brand’s actions speak volumes about their dedication to sustainability. By working hard on lowering emissions, increasing recycling and limiting their impact on the planet, brands not only fulfil their environmental responsibilities but improve their reputation among consumers, boosting the bottom line.

“Sustainability practices are good for business, with innovation, transparency and information key for brands to strengthen their customer relationships long term,” said Neal Brown, SVP of Strategy & Insights at advertising platform Teads – another partner in the MAGNA research.

One simple way for brands to offset some of their emissions is to join the Carbon Balanced Paper (CBP) programme. Designed to help companies reduce the carbon impact of their paper and printed communications, CBP enables brands to demonstrate their commitment to the environment while enabling partner suppliers and printers to carbon balance their paper and print services.

The funds raised by CBP go towards a number of vital World Land Trust projects around the world, which preserves invaluable ecosystems that are home to some of the world’s most endangered species. It’s a fantastic project that makes a real difference to the threatened ecosystems of the world and something your customers would be inspired by – as long as you tell them about it.

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