A recent report has revealed that two thirds of adults in the UK are wary of brand claims of social purpose when many are still not ‘walking the talk’. So, what can brands do about it?

Consumer expectations around sustainability are higher than ever before – and a savvy green marketing strategy is no longer a cause for consideration on its own. Brands that are stuck in the mindset of style over supply chain are going to find they fall short quite quickly. And once they do, it’s going to be incredibly hard to make a comeback with consumers.

We’re already seeing some brands take a new approach. In recent weeks, Google Maps announced that it would be directing users to use the most eco-friendly routes as default. Rather than a shiny add-on, the feature is a just a fundamental integration to the app with users having to opt-out not opt-in to being climate conscious.

And, crucially, user experience won’t be compromised. According to Google, for nearly half the routes users will have the option to be eco-friendly with minimal or no time-cost trade-offs. This is critical to ensuring consumer buy-in to a more sustainable brand world.

It’s possible too that in the near future, lofty sustainability claims which aren’t grounded in reality will be sniffed at by more than consumers. Governments also have a responsibility to ensure that a large-scale shift towards an environmentally friendly and carbon neutral society is both tangible and meaningful.

After raising the issue in December 2020, France has since introduced one of the world’s first legal sanctions against greenwashing. Under an amendment to the country’s consumer code, guilty parties could be subject to large fines relating to false promotional campaigns. And it’s possible, that as consumer awareness of the issue grows, other countries could follow.

For brands, it has never been more important for brands to forget the ‘talk’ – focus instead on the walk, and then you might find you can run in the future.

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