According to Simmons Research, 61 percent of US adults believe that companies should help consumers become more environmentally responsible. 52 percent are more likely to purchase a product or service from a company that is environmentally friendly. These percentages have increased since the year prior and will likely continue to increase.
Many brands including Unilever, Nestle, Patagonia, and Amazon are taking sweeping actions to overhaul their organizations to combat climate change. Some of the steps taken are changing packaging and shipping material to more environmentally friendly options, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sourcing raw materials from more sustainable sources. Recently, the U.N. Climate Action Summit occurred on September 23, 2019, bringing climate action into the mainstream spotlight. The United Nations’ ActNow Climate Campaign has given consumers ten ways to act to contribute to climate action. The ten actions include consuming local produce, bringing your own bag to the store, unplugging, recycling, eating more meat-free meals, turning the lights off, taking five-minute showers, driving less, using zero-waste fashion, and refilling and reusing. This movement to more mindful consumption will likely have drastic consequences on brands as consumers start taking action. For example, brands that rely on meat-centric meals may see a dip in profits as consumers opt for plant-based protein such as Beyond Meat. Consumers seeking a wardrobe upgrade will be more likely to opt for environmentally responsible options such as Rothy’s, Patagonia and Outdoor Voices rather than brands selling “fast fashion” such as Forever 21 and H&M.
Brands who aren’t enabling consumers to live sustainably are being called out by celebrities and influencers on social media. In September 2019, Alicia Silverstone made headlines after complaining on Twitter that Starbucks made her a drink in a disposable paper cup, then threw it away after pouring it into the reusable cup she had provided. Her efforts to “refill and reuse” were completely negated by Starbucks.
If brands don’t take action against climate change, we will see consumers taking action by spending money elsewhere, reducing consumption, or discontinuing use completely.