We asked shoppers to describe sustainability, here’s what we found out

The endless destruction and devastation caused by rising temperatures and ever more frequent extreme weather events has put climate change firmly on the global agenda. Collective effort is required by governments, businesses, and individuals alike to stop us on a path of irreversible damage to our planet and life.

To address this, FMCG brands have put sustainability at the forefront of many initiatives and campaigns to tackle their own carbon footprint. Often the term ‘Sustainability’ is used in communications and advertising to highlight this to shoppers but do shoppers really know what the term means? What is top of mind when they think of sustainability?

We sought to find out and conducted a poll of 1,000 people across the UK to describe Sustainability with regards to shopping. We received a wide variety of answers (see image below) and among the most mentioned descriptions were Eco-friendly and Long Lasting.

However, what came out on top was ‘Don’t Know’. Is this surprising? Not really, sustainability is a very broad term with a variety of different interpretations and meanings.

To overcome this grey area, brands could put greater focus on specific actions that encompass sustainability (e.g. recyclable materials, renewable resources and local materials). This also plays on our natural tendency to process information more readily and easily if it’s broken down into sizeable ‘chunks’, especially to ones we are more familiar with.

For those that may be wondering or have yet to google the definition of sustainability, it can be defined as ‘the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore being able to continue for a long time’ (Cambridge Dictionary).

We can help brands on their eco-friendly journey from understanding the market landscape, uncovering the real triggers and barriers by measuring real behaviour, through to testing different concepts and communications.

If you want to understand what sustainability means to your customers, get in touch by filling out our contact form below.


Written by Sinita Govind, Associate Director at Spark Emotions
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Sinita via email sinita.govind@sparkemotions.com or connect with her on LinkedIn