Are consumers really engaging with corporate sustainability issues?

Consumers hold companies and governments responsible for sustainability. Discover just how much this is true.

The author(s)

  • Meghann Jones Global Affairs, US
  • Tamara Ansons Behavioural Science, UK
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Over the past few months, Ipsos has collaborated with Innovation Forum to understand the attitudes of consumers in the US, Great Britain, and France towards sustainable business and how sustainability affects their spending decisions. The findings will be discussed at Innovation Forum's 2019 conference series, with the goal of generating discussion about how consumers can be helped to make sustainable purchasing choices.

It is known that consumers desire to purchase ethical and sustainable products, but that they don’t always follow-through in their purchasing and consumption decisions. There are significant barriers and competing priorities – such as price, convenience, and understanding – that consumers need to overcome to enable them to make sustainable purchasing decisions.

Current approaches to communicating the sustainability credentials of brands do not seem to be having the desired effect, and as brands come under pressure to articulate their sustainable practices to consumers, their approach to doing so needs revisiting.

Ipsos’ research partnership with Innovation Forum will explore consumer attitudes, awareness and knowledge of sustainability issues. Beyond that, the research will narrow in on the gap between consumer attitudes and behaviors, bringing expertise from the Ipsos’ Global Behavioral Sciences Team, to identify and measure the conscious and non-conscious factors that drive behavior.

The first analysis from the research demonstrates that:

  1. Consumers hold companies and governments responsible for sustainability. They are willing to act, but feel that their impact as individuals is limited.
  2. Consumers in the US are more focused on the social and governance aspects of sustainability, whereas in Great Britain they are more focused on environment. This may be related to the current political climate and recent events in each country. Younger consumers tend to be more social conscious than older consumers.
  3. The intent-behavior gap in sustainability is a result of the barriers faced by consumers when they make purchasing decisions, such as financial cost and access to information. Product labelling is primary way in which consumers understand the sustainability credentials of products.




Ipsos is passionate about being the trusted source of information. Through our research, we want to help leaders in government, business and politics understand the world and make better-informed decisions. And we share this passion with Innovation Forum, an organization leading the way in best-in-class policy dialogues and influential high-level conferences in the corporate sustainability field.

The author(s)

  • Meghann Jones Global Affairs, US
  • Tamara Ansons Behavioural Science, UK