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Environmental attitudes of UK consumers

Environmental attitudes of UK consumers

IPC Insight has unveiled the findings from a major research initiative.

'Green Matters’ investigates UK consumers’ reactions to, and engagement with, the hot environmental issues currently setting the international agenda.

The research questioned a reader panel of over three thousand men and women across the UK with a breadth of interests and perspectives, to find out what the British public really thinks about the issues surrounding the environment.

The impact of travel, transport, energy use and shopping behaviour on the environment – as well as consumers’ individual responsibility – all come under the spotlight. And ‘Green Matters’ throws up some unexpected results.

Overall, 88 per cent of respondents claim to be concerned about the environment – but their predominant concern is for what directly affects them: the impact on their children.

Climate change and global warming are of secondary importance – perceived to be much more removed from respondents’ daily lives.

And while the majority agree that managing the environment is society’s shared responsibility, only a minority recognise it as their personal responsibility.

IPC marketing & strategy director, Neil Perkin, said, “The environment is clearly one of the most important issues concerning governments, consumers and brands.

“’Green Matters’ has unlocked a wealth of insight into how consumers really relate to the environmental debate – and it provides a wealth of clues as to how brands can really generate impact.”

Key findings include:

- The majority of consumers simply can’t live without their cars, but it is when they are actively involved in changing their car that the environment and reducing pollution becomes a major consideration informing purchase.

- Although consumers are aware of the environmental impact of flying, their perceived need for a holiday far outweighs any good intentions – despite Government discussions on the possibility of taxing consumers who fly more than once a year.

Rubbish & Recycling
Recycling is universal - everyone recycles in some form or other – this shows the power of educating consumers to make the little things they do to help the environment count.

On average, respondents throw out 1.98 bin bags per week.  Not surprisingly this increases amongst mass market families - with over a quarter using 3+ bags every week.

Energy efficiency
- This is one core area where consumers have been empowered to take action.
- Switching off electrical appliances is driven by saving money: safeguarding the environment is only the third most popular motive, after personal safety.
- The vast majority now wash their clothes on 30 or 40 degree cycles – many respondents highlighted campaigns like Ariel's 'Turn to 30' as influencing behaviour positively.
- A significant minority of consumers are starting to use some kind of renewable energy in the home – including solar and bio-fuels.
- Many more would like to use renewable energy sources but are not sure how to go about it – they need more advice and information.

Saving water
- One area where consumers are being educated is in saving water.  With strong messages from water companies, three quarters turn the tap off when cleaning their teeth; just under half use water saving devices in the loo, and a third share their bath water.

Paying for the environment
- Consumers are prepared to pay a premium when they perceive a real benefit. In general, respondents are prepared to pay more for fair trade and free range products.
- Just under a quarter of respondents already purchase environmentally friendly products.

Group Head of Insight at IPC Media, Amanda Wigginton, said, “Green Matters clearly illustrates that while environmental issues are being played out by governments on a global stage, UK consumers need to feel personally engaged with the issues.

"The opportunity that advertisers have is to educate, personalise and bring these issues home to consumers.  This is the key to changing their behaviour.”

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