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Consumers and the Environment

Our impact on the environment is one of the most talked-about subjects amongst UK consumers and even globally. In 2019, Greta Thunberg was Googled 246,000 times every single month, and that’s just in the UK.
Consumers and the Environment

With UK consumers becoming more aware of our impact on the planet, we wanted to find out how much it affects the UK’s buying habits. Do consumers really care about the environment? Are they actively researching companies before purchasing from them? Are consumers put off by excessive plastic or packaging? Would consumers be willing to pay more for eco-friendly products?

We surveyed over 2,000 UK consumers to find out just this, and ultimately help businesses understand what consumers really want. One out come is clear:

A huge 91% of UK consumers think that companies need to take more responsibility in looking after the environment.

But how exactly is this pro-environmental sentiment manifesting?

Are more people saying no to meat?

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Veganism and adopting a more plant-based diet has been hugely publicized in recent years for its environmental benefits. According to our research, 38% of people are currently reducing the number of animal products they eat and 5% of people are already vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian.

Palm-oil and plastic, 2019’s environmental buzzwords?

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Rainforest deforestation is one of the biggest environmental worries for UK consumers. The rainforest plays a key role in keeping our planet healthy. Rainforest trees and plants absorb a huge amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and then release oxygen that helps stabilise the Earth’s climate. Rainforest deforestation occurs for a number of reasons including logging, cattle ranching, mining and unsustainable agriculture.

Unsustainable agriculture refers to the areas of the rainforest that have been cleared in order to grow fruit, sugar cane, tea, coffee and most famously –palm trees for palm oil. In 2019, Palm oil was Googled 33,100 times every single month in the UK and 41% of UK consumers would not buy a product if it contained unsustainable palm oil.

What do consumers think to single-use plastic?

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Similarly to palm oil, single-use plastic has also had its time in the limelight in recent years. Single-use plastic is hard to avoid, but UK consumers are desperately trying to minimise their use of it, with 85% of consumers saying they’re actively trying to reduce the amount they use.

50% of consumers have even avoided purchasing something because it used excessive single-use plastic and 79% of consumers would be willing to pay more for a product if it was made with natural or biodegradable materials.

Even if you don’t offer a physical product, there are still ways your business can help the environment and appeal to new consumers who may be looking for more eco-friendly alternatives. 69% of UK consumers said they would be willing to pay more for a service if the company used electric vehicles or renewable energy.

If you think that bad environmental practices may go under the radar...

Be warned – customers do their research

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1 in 10 UK consumers always check a company’s environmental stance before purchasing from them and 30% of consumers have actively avoided buying from a business because of their lack of environmental responsibility.

So, how can I as a business owner implement positive change in my business today? Create a strong ethos. The way you value the environment and account for your company's eco-footprint, and how you communicate this both internally and externally, determines the reputation you build for yourself.

It’s far more desirable to reap the rewards of having a clear conscience and celebrate your business’ environmental stance than to potentially lose business because of your negative reputation. You might not even be able to identify why consumer buying choices have changed before it is too late.

A huge 91% of UK consumers think that companies need to take more responsibility in looking after the environment, and 83% of UK consumers think brands should advertise their impact on the environment more clearly, that’s both the good and the bad.

If your business goes the extra mile to ensure it contributes towards fighting environmental issues, then you should be shouting about it. Our survey shows that UK consumers aren’t afraid to do their research when it comes to hunting down more eco-conscious businesses.

Our survey also showed that 57% of consumers would feel more loyalty towards environmentally friendly companies or ones that invest in environmental issues. 81% of consumers would prefer to buy goods or services from eco-friendly companies.

Therefore, if you plant trees for every product you sell or you’ve invested in a fleet of electric vehicles, marketing your environmental efforts could be hugely beneficial to your business and its future.

What does the most eco-conscious consumer look like?

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From our research, we found that women are generally more environmentally conscious than men, from eating less meat to buying less plastic. 7% of women are currently vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian, compared to just 3% of men. 41% of women are trying to reduce the amount of meat they eat, compared to 35% of men. 54% of female consumers have avoided purchasing something because it used excessive single-use plastic, vs just 47% of men. And 45% of female consumers would not buy a product if it contained unsustainable palm oil, vs just 38% of men.

Even when it comes to habits and concerns between generations, millennials are the least environmentally aware demographic whilst baby boomers are the most. 95% of consumers aged 55+ believe companies need to take more responsibility in looking after the environment, compared to just 76% of millennials. And 84% of consumers aged 55+ think brands should advertise their impact on the environment more clearly, compared to just 73% of millennials.

Marketing your eco-conscious business

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Now that you’re aware of how much the environment contributes to UK consumer’s buying habits, it’s time to make sure your business doesn’t feel the brunt of it.

1. Start helping the environment

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If you want to win over potential eco-conscious customers, it’s a good idea to start considering the ways your business can help the environment and make a positive impact. It could be donating to a charity that plants more trees or using renewable energy rather than more traditional sources.

These changes could make a huge impact on where consumers choose to spend their money. Making your business more environmentally friendly could also set you apart from competitors as 1 in 10 UK consumers always check a company’s environmental stance before spending their money.

2. Avoid using unsustainable ingredients

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If you use unsustainable ingredients in your product or services, it could be stumping your business’ growth and profit. By switching to sustainable ingredients that don’t harm the environment, you could be opening your product to a more engaged audience and improving your business’ reputation.

3. Tell people about it!

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If you already have an eco-friendly business or you’re moving towards that, it’s crucial to shout about it. As previously mentioned, 57% of consumers would feel more loyalty towards a company who invests in environmental issues and 81% of consumers would prefer to buy goods or services from an environmentally conscious company. By marketing your environmental efforts and ensuring consumers are aware of your positive changes, you could see a huge change in business. If you switch to more ecofriendly alternatives or your services/products are better for the environment than your competitors, highlight it on your website, packaging or anywhere that will get your business’ goals seen and heard. Contact local press and highlight the positive and active change your green business is making.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that small and large businesses can have on the environment. Companies are starting to adapt, yet at a slower rate than what is needed, and many consumers are aware of that. By making your business more environmentally friendly, you could be putting your business ahead of the race, whilst also helping the planet along the way.

How could Esme help?

If you’re looking for business finance to help make your business more environmentally friendly, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Esme Loans, we offer online business loans from £10,000* to £250,000 that can be repaid over a 1 to 5 year period. Whether it’s buying a new electric vehicle or installing solar panels, our business loans can be with you within an hour of being approved. To get the ball rolling, get an instant business loan quote or apply for an Esme business loan using our 10-minute application form.

*£25,500 for sole traders

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