While over half of UK consumers (53 percent) believe brands have the power to change the garment industry for the better, just one-fifth trust the sustainability claims made by brands, new research suggests.
A massive 83 percent of consumers would be more likely to trust the sustainability credentials of a product if it had been verified by a third party – an indicator that the role of supply chain data in increasing consumer confidence on the authenticity of product claims should not be understated.
That’s according to a new report, The Knowledge is Power – Consumer Trust in Sustainability, based on a survey of 1,250 consumers in the UK. Commissioned by Compare Ethics, a data-driven sustainable product verification platform, the report examines consumer trust at a time when just about every fashion brand is flashing their eco-credentials.
’The gamble of greenwashing does not pay off’
According to Compare Ethics, the ethical consumer market is currently worth 82 billion pounds in the UK alone, and if brands want to capitalize on it they need to find ways to validate their sustainable claims.
That’s where Compare Ethics says it comes in. It researches the sustainable credentials of products and brands and offers a platform for consumers to check the findings.
“The world is at a crucial tipping point when it comes to sustainability and consumers increasingly want to align their spending to their values. Our report shows that without honest sustainability claims and readily available information, shoppers will soon discover the truth,” said Compare Ethics CEO and co-founder Abbie Morris. “The gamble of greenwashing does not pay off.”
She continued: “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 organization’s triple bottom line.”
The report also highlighted the need for better consumer education about exactly what makes a product sustainable. For example, nearly three quarters (72 percent) understand ‘sustainable’ products are those coming from sustainable sources, but perhaps don’t understand that these sources can often be more energy and water intensive across their lifecycle.
Additionally, the report found a need for better education surrounding the social elements involved in sustainability. For example, just 22 percent of shoppers associated sustainability with a brand paying workers a living wage, highlighting the need to introduce new standards.