How to guide your consumers through the maze that is sustainability


Previous EY Future Consumer Index (FCI) bulletins have shown the growing importance of and desire for sustainable consumer choices, evidenced by the trend for shopping locally during the pandemic.

Our seventh survey for the EY FCI takes a deeper dive into the topic of sustainability to provide a fuller picture of what it means to UK consumers, brands and retailers alike.

Sustainability: What does it actually mean?

The UK has pledged to be a world leader in reducing carbon, with legally binding targets on air and water quality, waste and biodiversity set by the UK Government. The EU is contemplating a carbon price on imports of emission-intensive goods. Meanwhile both the UK and the EU are clamping down on plastic waste by imposing stringent new tax frameworks on virgin plastic use.

But as governments define the regulatory environment, what does sustainability actually mean to consumers? Broadly it’s about aiming for a future that balances economic, social and environmental factors. Within each of these three factors is a myriad of sub-topics that consumers perceive as sustainability issues.

The survey identified issues of importance to consumers such as sustainable engagement with ecosystems and preserving bio-diversity (perceived as an issue by 34% of UK consumers) to ending hunger and achieving sustainable agriculture (19%,) as well as the more obvious themes such as climate change (33%).

It’s important that when considering their sustainability strategy, brands and retailers realise that this broad and diverse array of consumer perceptions includes human and societal issues, as well as environmental.

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