Singapore consumers confused and distrustful of sustainability claims

22 March 2021 3 min. read

Accenture and the WWF have teamed up in Singapore to survey consumers on sustainable products, finding that confusion around inconsistent eco-branding is inhibiting uptake.

A joint study by global professional services firm Accenture and the Singapore branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has found a widespread mistrust among local consumers for eco-friendly brand claims. According to the research, three quarters of those surveyed want to behave in a more sustainable manner, but many are left confused by claims of sustainability and nearly one quarter are outright distrustful.

What consumers want

Altogether, half of the respondents stated that climate change was their top concern, with around 30 percent saying they would purchase sustainable products more often if they had greater information on their positive environmental impact. “More companies are putting their eco-credentials front and centre in an attempt to rise above their competitors, but non-standard and varying sustainability claims are confusing consumers,” the report states.

Consumer needs for eco-friendly purchasing

Overall, 30 percent of consumers reported confusion around eco-friendly touting, while one quarter wanted to be able to easily verify sustainable credibility. Here, 54 percent of Singaporean consumers listed the government as their most trusted source for information, a figure which suggests the government could play an active role together with private sector organisations in establishing uniform standards and consistent forms of messaging.

“There is an opportunity for different stakeholders – businesses, independent organisations and the Government – to collaborate and adopt common benchmarks and standards for sustainability claims to empower consumers to make clear and informed choices,” said Sonia Gupta, managing director for Growth & Innovation at Accenture, with companies also expressing the need to collaborate with external commercial partners on matters of environmental sustainability.

In addition to ready and credible information, the surveyed consumers highlighted a lack of variety and easy availability as further road-blocks to eco-purchasing, at response rates of one half and a third, while 56 percent selected ‘poor value’ as their primary factor in not opting for sustainable alternatives. With businesses currently focusing their sustainability efforts in areas such as operational footprints, Accenture believes there is a sizeable market gap.

“Consumers are eager to take action for the environment by making more sustainable purchases,” the authors conclude, “but they want a better overall value proposition. Companies that can meet this pent-up demand for products and services that are sustainable, easily available and offer excellent value will distinguish themselves in the marketplace by attracting new customers and building brand loyalty and growth.”

What companies want

In turn, the companies interviewed have called on consumers to play their part, asking for customer feedback and greater demands for sustainable options to enable stronger business cases for investment.

On top of that, businesses would like for consumers to be more open to aesthetic trade-offs, as with recycled plastic and paper packaging, while also asking that consumers accept other greener packaging practices such as refill bags and product dispensers.