UK adults put off brands due to ‘green washing’

The younger generation is most likely to boycott a business if they don’t agree with its business practices

Adrian Hearn
Monday 23 August 2021 21:21 BST
<p>UK adults said it is important that businesses are both socially and ethically responsible  </p>

UK adults said it is important that businesses are both socially and ethically responsible

A fifth of adults have stopped using a brand over the past 12 months because they thought it had tricked users by ‘green washing’.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults shows how important it is for businesses to adopt socially responsible and ethical policies.

More than half (52 per cent) of those aged 18 to 25 are ‘keeping an eye’ on the business practices of the companies they use.

And the younger generation is also more likely to act if they see business practices they don’t like, with more than a quarter convincing someone else to stop using a business or service because they didn’t agree with the way it acted.

In comparison, just 6 per cent of those aged 65 and over have done the same.

Two thirds want large companies to publish an audited environmental impact statement each year.

And this rises to 74 per cent of those aged 18 to 34, compared to 56 per cent of over 65s, according to research by Coutts, the wealth manager and private bank.

A number of adults said they would stop using a brand if they were found to be green washing – trying to mislead consumers over their green credentials.

And overall, more than a fifth (21 per cent) say they have ditched a brand because of green washing - with this figure rising to 52 per cent amongst 18- to 24-year-olds.

Coutts carried out the research after it became the first bank to be awarded B-Corp certification, reaching the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance and public transparency.

Businesses with this certification are expected to pay as much attention to their social and environmental impact as they do their profits.

Peter Flavel, CEO of Coutts, said: “One of the reasons we worked so hard to become a B Corp is because we want to be part of the new era of businesses.

“The data clearly shows the direction of travel for the UK.

“It’s encouraging that for younger people, a business’ integrity and the impact it has on society and the environment is so important.”

Stories of workers being treated badly would lead to 35 per cent of the public stopping using them.

And some say they’d stop using the product or service if they had caused an ecological problem or catastrophe.

While others said they can always tell when a company is trying to fake being ethical.

The survey, conducted via OnePoll, revealed one in five UK adults would stop using a brand if their CEO put something inappropriate on social media.

Peter Flavel, CEO of Coutts, added: “Transparency and accountability should be at the cornerstone of good business and our research has shown how important it is for companies around the world to ensure they operate in a socially and environmentally sound way.

“Being under such scrutiny and holding ourselves to account is another reason why becoming a certified B Corporation was so important to us.”


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