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Home » industry research, News, Sustainability

How a low-carbon business plan can really win you loyal fans

Submitted by on March 23, 2011 – 9:33 amOne Comment

That’s one of the big findings that come out of a new survey of the British public released this week by the UK’s Carbon Trust, a non-profit with the mission to accelerate our move to a low carbon economy over the coming decades. It’s become evident that we’ll never reach this goal unless the public gets involved to prod along the laggards and to Tweet kudos to those leading the way.

Last month the Carbon Trust, along with Vanson Bourne, conducted a phone survey, ringing 1,000 adults from across the UK to ask them their views on how the private sector are tackling climate change. The headline finding is that consumer mistrust of companies’ touted green efforts remains high. To wit, 70% of those polled want businesses to mandatorily disclose their carbon emissions and that 60% demand third party evidence of action from a respected climate change body before believing corporate claims, the study reveals.

What was more interesting to us is the appeal among the public for those companies who demonstrate their green credentials. It is a viewpoint that will impact sales. Here’s how it’s explained:

BrandZ, the WPP brand and corporate reputation study carried out by Millward Brown, has calculated that on average about 20% of sales are influenced by corporate reputation. Recent BrandZ research has shown that about 10% of the corporate influence is directly related to perceived environmental behaviour. This therefore equates to about 2% of all sales.

Two percent of sales could grow even greater when you consider the word-of-mouth impact of going green. Again, courtesy of BrandZ and the Carbon Trust research, which found:

  • 61% [of respondents] said they would be more likely to buy from a company if it has a good reputation for reducing its impact on climate change.
  • 56% are more loyal to brands that can show, at a glance, evidence of action.
  • 56% are more concerned than they were five years ago about whether the companies they buy from take responsibility for their direct impact on climate change.
  • 53% want to work for companies which can clearly demonstrate commitment to reducing their impacts.

And, not surprisingly, the social web is influencing public opinion greatly. The findings state:

The first place most people search for evidence of corporate climate change claims is not company websites (36%), or annual reports (15%) but search engines (46%); which provide a range of sources.

Similarly, the potential for the public to share information on corporate climate change has increased via the web. The research highlighted the public’s propensity to share and publish their findings about company’s which go ‘above and beyond’ to reduce their impacts on climate change:

  • One in three (33%) opt into companies by following or becoming ‘friends’ with organisations on social networking sites.
  • One in five (20%) would blog, or write about them in web forums.
  • 62% tell their family and friends.

Says Harry Morrison, General Manager of Carbon Trust, “it’s thought that around 83 tweets per second contain a reference to a product or brand. It’s natural that people’s expectations for corporates to reduce their environmental impacts feature highly in those comments. So, it’s vital for brands to provide easily searchable, credible and understood evidence of their actions.”

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