Greenwashing concerns ‘pervasive’ across every sector, global survey finds

10th October 2023

Over half of consumers believe that companies across every sector are misleading the public when reporting their sustainability credentials, a global survey has found.

Based on 26,000 interviews worldwide, the research from market insights firm Kantar reveals that the social media, meat, and clothing and footwear sectors are seen as the biggest culprits when it comes to greenwashing.

Although the pet food and baby hygiene sectors sit at the bottom of the table for greenwashing concerns, more than four in 10 consumers believe that they share false or inaccurate information regarding their sustainability efforts.

This is shown in the table below:

“Half of global consumers believe brands across all sectors are greenwashing their activities, putting customers’ trust at risk through miscommunication and misguided strategies,” said Karine Trinquetel, global head of offer at Kantar’s sustainable transformation practice.

“Brands need a nuanced understanding of the opportunities to cut through and drive meaningful change. Acting with bravery and boldness to lead the way in sustainability has never been a more critical imperative, regardless of your sector”.

The study also ranks 42 sectors based on the public’s perception of their sustainability credentials, with fresh fruit and vegetable firms ranked at the top of the table, and cigarette and tobacco companies at the bottom.

Surprisingly, the data shows that consumers see the luxury sector as similar to the oil and gas industry in terms of driving progress on social and environmental issues, although not as bad as cigarettes or vaping.

This is shown in the table below:

The oil and gas industry and clothing and footwear sectors were seen as the worst offenders when it comes to delivering on their sustainability commitments, while in-home entertainment and electric vehicles were perceived as the best.

This comes after a report from the think tank Planet Tracker earlier this year found that corporate greenwashing is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

It identifies six forms of greenwashing: greencrowding, greenlighting, greenshifting, greenlabelling, greenrinsing and greenhushing. These range from marketing a product inaccurately to intentionally distracting from damaging environmental policies.

John Willis, director of research at Planet Tracker, said that addressing the problem will require a new framework for identifying greenwashing.

He added: “By identifying the various iterations that greenwashing comes in, we hope to enable investors and consumers to be more mindful when making environmentally led decisions.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

Table credit: Kantar


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