Green issues key concern with ethical reasons driving brand choices – research reveals

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WHAT: Toluna’s Global Consumer Barometer Study is a regular index that taps into a panel of 36+ million members to provide accurate and timely information on the world’s current perceptions. The latest research surveyed 1,023 people in the UK.


Concerns about the environment at an all-time high

Environmental issues are the biggest concern, with 61% of those surveyed stating that they’re most worried about the future of the planet. This is followed by poverty (49%), human rights (42%), and equality & diversity (41%).

Given people’s concerns around the environment, when asked how they’d help to make the world a cleaner, greener place, the following behaviours were highlighted:

  • 72% of people said they recycle as much as they can.
  • 70% of those surveyed said they focus on reducing food waste as much as possible.
  • 57% sell, re-use, repurpose or donate unwanted clothes.
  • 33% buy fair trade or ethically sourced items.

Ethical reasons heavily influence brand and shopping choices

  • 87% of respondents believe brands should be held accountable for their actions to consumers, with over half feeling strongly about this.
  • 73% of those surveyed said they often or sometimes go out of their way to engage and buy from brands that are closely aligned to their personal values, such as being more socially and environmentally responsible. Forty percent have actually stopped using brands that don’t align with their values.
  • 52% of people said they think about whether the brand they’re buying products or services from supports the ethical issues they feel strongly about.
  • Nearly half (49%) of respondents would switch to brands that are more aligned to their ethical values.
  • 46% said brands should be doing a lot better when it comes to being environmentally responsible.
  • 25% said that environmental issues were their number one reason for choosing a service or product from a brand.

Who is responsible for driving change and creating more ethical brands and businesses?

  • An overwhelming 70% of those surveyed said the responsibility was down to the government.
  • 61% said brands and manufacturers must take the lead in being more responsible.
  • 60% of respondents said driving change is down to each individual who must change their day-to-day behaviour to help create a more sustainable, environmentally responsible way of life.
  • 59% of people believe supermarkets and retailers must lead by example to encourage behavioural change.
  • Food and drink companies (41%), travel companies (36%), and energy suppliers (36%) were the top three businesses that people felt could do a lot more to support their ethical values.

Lucia Juliano, Research Sector Head at Toluna said: “It’s evident that climate change is a real issue and cause for real concern amongst consumers. Our research shows that consumers recognize they are responsible for driving change in this area – but they’ve also made it clear that brands, manufacturers, and retailers must also do more and lead by example. With the incoming UK Environment Bill high on the agenda as COP26 approaches, the UK public feels strongly about creating a better world to fight climate change and protect the environment. It’s clear that they want businesses and brands to do better, act more ethically, and put sustainability at the heart of their ethos.”


About Toluna

Toluna delivers real-time consumer insights at the speed of the on-demand economy. With a commitment to leading by technology innovation, Toluna revolutionises market research and empowers clients with the agility to instantly conduct quantitative and qualitative research. By combining global scale and local expertise with innovative digital solutions and award-winning research design, Toluna helps clients explore tomorrow, now. 

Toluna is the parent company of Harris Interactive Europe and KuRunData. Together, we strive to push market research toward a better tomorrow.

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