Just one fifth of shoppers trust sustainability claims made by brands, according to new research from The Knowledge is Power – Consumer Trust in Sustainability Report. The research, commissioned by Compare Ethics, the Trust and Accountability Forum by Data-based Sustainable Product Verification, investigates the customer confidence crisis and pushes the retail industry towards sustainability. It indicates that confidence is now the secret to decision-making in consumer buying, but that consumers are becoming more skeptical that high street retailers claim to sustainability. The study reveals that, after a third party has tested a product’s sustainability assertion, a whopping 83 per cent of customers will be more likely to trust the critical value of supply chain evidence in increasing customer interest on the validity of product statements. The study reveals that brands alone have to be willing to justify their sustainable policies in order to capture those consumers, with the responsible business industry standing in Britain at over £82 billion.
Over half of consumers (53%) see brands as having the most power to change the garment industry for the better, highlighting the need for accountability and refreshed methods to build trust by all if we are to move to a more sustainable future. Compare Ethics’ data also points to the need for better education of consumers about the social elements involved in sustainability. For example, nearly three quarters (72%) understand ‘sustainable’ products to be those coming from sustainable sources, yet such sources are often more energy and water intensive across their life cycle. Only 22% of consumers would associate sustainability with a brand paying workers a living wage, highlighting the need to introduce standards around sustainability to build trust and empower shoppers to make informed purchase decisions.
Since 2018, Compare Ethics has aimed to create trust in sustainable development and to bind people to truly ethical and environmentally sound goods. It has built faith signals and verification technologies that celebrates sustainability and audacity that allows brands to scale up their investments and sustained growth. “The environment is at the turning stage when it comes to economic growth, and customers more and more want to balance their budgets with their values,” commented Abbie Morris, CEO and co-founder at Compare Ethics. Our research reveals that shoppers will soon discover the reality without truthful arguments for sustainability and easily available facts. The greenwashing game is not worthwhile.
“Transparency is essential, but so is tangible evidence on how brands are working towards their sustainability targets. Scaling the use of new trust signals such as third-party verification technology from Compare Ethics will enhance purpose led decision making and boost an organisation’s triple bottom line.” James Bartle, Founder at Outland Denim, added: “By building genuine connection and trust with those at the beginning of the fashion supply chain, we can build a stronger understanding of how our clothes came to be, and how we can better protect those making them. As consumers move towards buying more ethically, substantive evidence will be required to verify brand practices. Honest, proactive sustainable brands therefore have much to gain.” Wendy Hammett at the London Fashion Fund said: “In the wake of coronavirus, consumer spending will tighten. Brands must consequently anchor trust into their sustainability credentials, if they are to retain loyalty and market share.”