WEDNESDAY 27 APR 2022 2:12 PM


Visual communications provider, iStock, conducted research into current attitudes towards climate changes issues, to better understand how brands can engage with the sustainable consumer. With 79% of people actively trying to reduce the amount of plastic they use, iStock says subtle sustainable brand comms are the way forward.

iStock's creative insights platform, Visual GPS, conducted a survey of over 10,000 individuals globally every four months since November 2019. It found that 94% of people are personally practicing sustainability. This figure peaked at 95% in Spring 2021, when the UK government announced it would introduce new laws to reach climate targets and cut emissions by 78% in 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

Recycling was still considered to be the most prominent way for consumers to make a positive impact on the planet, for 73%. This was followed by making homes energy efficient for 40% of respondents, while stopping the use of single-use products and making transport choices that reduce use of petrol and diesel was a priority for 35%.

Only 8% of people thought joining associations and advocacy groups or donating to charities that support sustainability was a good way to support climate action. The research also found that 64% of people think the UK government could be doing more to combat climate change, with only 36% confident that the government is doing everything in their power to help.

If the government fails to act on climate change, 73% of people said businesses should take the lead to implement change. To support businesses looking to communicate around sustainability across their marketing channels, iStock’s visual experts shared insight into how brands can engage with the sustainable consumer.

Rebecca Swift, global head of creative insights at iStock, says, “After the launch of Visual GPS two years ago, we have learnt that consumers are expecting businesses of all sizes to take responsibility for improving climate conditions.”

Rethinking the representation of sustainability is important. Imagery of polar bears, solar panels and icebergs is no longer the most effective way to communicate with sustainable consumers. Brands should consider including visuals that are more subtly linked to the sustainability movement as consumers experience it.

 while 53% only buy from brands that make an effort to be eco-friendly. iStock suggest rethinking images for every project, including small details such as reusable cups or metal straws in their comms.

Although 46% of consumers know they should care about the environment, convenience is the main barrier stopping this from becoming a reality. Brands should use aspirational and future-facing imagery which helps consumers to feel like their sustainable efforts will make a positive impact.

“Our research shows that while consumers are carrying out some positive actions in their day-to-day lives, they still lack understanding of how such important issues like climate change impact their daily lives. This represents an opportunity for small businesses and entrepreneurs to show their communities how they are committed to sustainability, how they can support their customers be more sustainable via their offerings and demonstrate the benefits of having a more sustainable lifestyle,” adds Swift.