Consumers shift consumption priorities onto water and waste

Water and waste concerns must sit higher on the corporate agenda as research reveals consumers are starting to attach as much importance to these issues as working conditions and fair wages.

Companies now face mounting pressure to address safe drinking water and waste reduction within their own operations, as well as the products and services they offer to customers.

An extensive survey published by the Regeneration Roadmap assessed global consumer attitudes to sustainable consumption and asked respondents to rank the top issues that businesses needed to take action on as a matter of urgency.

Nine out of ten consumers (92%) ranked safe drinking water as the most important, followed by health care (87%), fair wages and safe working conditions (87%), waste reduction (86%), and jobs and economic opportunity (86%).

Safe drinking water was universally ranked as the single biggest issue across every country surveyed – Brazil, China, Germany, India, UK and the US – with developing markets (93% of respondents) rating it just slightly higher than developed markets (90%).

The challenge for brands and their supply chains is not just to deliver on these demands, but build greater transparency into their operations so that their CSR claims are perceived as credible and stand up to scrutiny.

Almost two-thirds of consumers (64%) globally felt they would buy more products if they perceived them to be environmentally and socially responsible, however these products had to demonstrate similar performance levels and not carry a premium price tag.

Interestingly, consumers appear willing to engage with business and open to collaboration to help find solutions to sustainable consumption. Two-thirds (67%) were interested in sharing their ideas, opinions and experiences with companies to help push product development forward on this front.

The Re:thinking Consumption study noted that delivering best value – not just a product that’s good for the planet, but “tribal benefits” which help consumers feel connected to a larger community that shares their values – is now an emerging brand opportunity and will help build loyalty going forwards.

“Done right, brands can connect with consumers on a deeper level and win their respect by telling the larger story behind their products,” the report states.

“Consumers expect transparency and authenticity. Brands can build credibility by sharing the good, acknowledging the bad and inviting new ideas and solutions to tackle challenges together.”

Maxine Perella

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