Sustainability Sentiment Tracker

In April and May 2021, we interviewed 2,000 consumers in the UK, and another 2,000 in the US, asking more than 150 questions to each person. We then conducted twelve focus groups across the two countries, building on the quantitative work to develop a more nuanced picture of how the public feels about sustainability and corporate behaviour.

There is a growing body of research and insights available to corporate leaders making sustainability decisions on behalf of brands or businesses. However, much of this research faces two common problems:

  • Frequently the research is designed to substantiate a pre-determined outcome. This means that companies cannot have full confidence in the robustness of the findings.
  • Often the research is too narrow (e.g. looking at just one issue, like climate change, or one demographic group, such as millennials).

This doesn’t enable businesses and governments to determine the importance of sustainability issues in the real world.

The BRODIE Public First Sustainability Sentiment Tracker overcomes these challenges by seeking to be as objective and as broad as possible. We start from a position of professional curiosity. It is our belief that companies are best served by knowing what consumers actually think about sustainability. Poor quality consumer insight will lead companies to over, or under, invest in social and environmental programmes, or simply to invest in the wrong areas.

The BRODIE Public First Sustainability Sentiment Tracker answers a series of key questions on what consumers in the UK and the US think about sustainability and business. Some of those key questions include:

1. Which sustainability issues are most important to consumers?

2. Which companies are perceived as sustainability leaders?

3. How optimistic are consumers about the future?

4. How well do the public understand the language of sustainability?

5. What are the key differences between consumers in the US and UK?

6. Who is responsible – business, government or the consumer – for progress on key topics?

7. Are consumers willing to pay more for more sustainable products?

The Sustainability Sentiment Tracker also establishes a market segmentation. This categorises consumers in the UK and US into six groups, which provide a framework to consider how best to engage with consumers, as well as colleagues. It is intended to support better decision making in companies with operations in the UK and/or US.

We end with five recommendations for business:

1. Don’t assume you know what your customer thinks about sustainability

2. Don’t forget the social issues whilst tackling the climate crisis

3. Use bold, clear and direct communications

4. Use the segmentation inside your business to engage colleagues and influence decision making

5. Keep looking for leading signals in your data

You can find our full report HERE and the poll tables HERE for  the UK, and HERE for the US.

If you are interested in knowing more about the report or working with Public First please contact Daisy Powell-Chandler on Daisy@publicfirst.co.uk