Change to protect

Posted by Oliver Koll on Oct 07, 2020

Another pair of shoes, a weekend trip to a favourite city, or a Fiorentina steak once a week. We as consumers display various habits to indulge ourselves that concurrently harm the environment. Although we are usually aware of these detrimental effects, behaviour change is difficult because fulfilling today’s desires dominates tomorrow’s consequences. Our 2020 #WhoCaresWhoDoes global survey looks at consumers’ ambitions to engage in pro-environmental actions:

  • Globally, flights (certainly also because of COVID), clothes and electronics are the top 3 categories in which consumers aim to cut consumption. US respondents plan to shop even less for new clothes and electronics than respondents elsewhere.
  • While Europeans and Asians plan to boost riding their bikes, walking or using public transportation, US and Latin-American consumers are more reluctant to forgo using cars – likely due to geographical and safety issues as well as habit.
  • Regarding meat consumption we find regional nuances: Consumers from Asia and the US most often indicate that they plan to reduce meat consumption.
  • Sharing and upcycling is much less popular: Nearly half of all respondents do not share commodities like cars, washing machines, etc. with others.
  • Finally, one third of all respondents say they are not vocal about environmental issues on social media. Reasons could include a general tendency to not engage in social media activities or a disbelief that spreading the word online helps to protect the environment. The ones that are vocal, however, plan to be more active.

Changing habits is essential to protect the environment and our study shows that many consumers want and intend to. The tricky part, however, is to form new habits that stick. Brands, retailers, and political institutions can support consumers in breaking bad habits and in encouraging new ones to overcome the intention-action gap. For example, Patagonia asked people to not buy a new jacket if the old one still does the job and Colgate reminded people to turn off the tap during teeth brushing. Such green nudges support consumers in integrating pro-environmental actions into daily routines. What is your action to go greener?

Countries included: UK, Ireland, China, Spain, France, Portugal, CAM, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, USA, Indonesia, Chile, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Data Collection 2020