More than half of global consumers are skeptical of sustainability claims of most brands
May 31st, 2023, Kineree Shah

More than half of global consumers are skeptical of sustainability claims of most brands

In an era of growing environmental consciousness, consumers globally are becoming increasingly skeptical about sustainability claims made by brands. A recent YouGov survey across 18 international markets sheds light on the extent of this skepticism.

Our data reveals that more than half of consumers across all markets agree that they are skeptical of brands' sustainability claims (55%), while nearly a third express neutrality (31%). Only one in 10 say they believe a brand’s sustainability claims (9%).

Starting with APAC, the data presents an interesting landscape. China and Indonesia have the lowest agreement rates (43% and 38% respectively), implying a lower level of cynicism towards green claims by brands. However, it is worth noting the high percentage of consumers in these markets who neither agree nor disagree, particularly in Indonesia where over half (51%) of the participants expressed neutrality. Hong Kong and Singapore have similarly mid-table rates of agreement (49% and 52% respectively) with a notable proportion of respondents who remain neutral (44% and 37%). On the other hand, nearly two-thirds of consumers in Australia (65%) agree that they are suspicious of eco-claims made by most brands.

Moving to Europe, the results convey a higher level of skepticism. France has the largest share of consumers who doubt such sustainability claims (68%), followed closely by Great Britain (64%) and Germany (63%). Interestingly, Spain, Poland, Italy, and Denmark, and all have higher disagreement rates (10%, 10%, 11%, and 13% respectively) compared to the global average (9%), indicating that a somewhat larger proportion of consumers in these markets are more inclined to believe brands' sustainability claims. Compared to other European markets, a lesser but still significant portion of Nordic register their skepticism (Sweden, 51%; Denmark, 48%)

North America echoes the global trend with half of consumers in the US and Canada skeptical of a brand’s sustainability claims (55% and 58% respectively). However, the share of consumers who 'neither agree nor disagree' still slightly outpaces the global average in both markets (30% and 29% respectively), possibly hinting at consumers who are still weighing the credibility of brands' sustainability claims. In Mexico, skepticism in sustainability claims is lower than other North American markets (45%) however more than a third expressed neutrality (36%).

Brands must take into account these high levels of skepticism and the significant proportions of undecided consumers when crafting their sustainability communications. While doubt seems to be the default setting, the sizable share of neutral consumers indicates a space for brands to clarify their sustainability strategies and convincingly convey their commitment to genuine environmental responsibility.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 512 and 2,007 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in March 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.