Sustainability at a turning point

Sustainability at a Turning Point

NEWS - JULY 2021

Sustainability at a Turning Point

A new IBM study shows how Covid-19 has changed the way consumers think.

Sustainability at a turning point

A RECENT STUDY BY IBM highlights the awareness globally of the impacts of extreme environmental events and how consumers are reacting. While the study focuses on shopping, investing, employment and travel, it obviously can also translate into how consumers think about their homes, as access to clean water is one of the major concerns shared by people across the planet. Take a few minutes to read this informative overview, as the results directly relate to performance homes that are sustainable and resilient.

From the IBM Institute for Business Value:

Covid-19 has changed the way consumers think about shopping, investing, employment and travel.

- Gillian Orrell, Associate Partner, Performance Data & Benchmarking Lead, IBM Europe
- Christopher Nowak, Business Transformation Consultant, Global Business Services, IBM
- Cristene Gonzalez-Wertz, Electronics and Environment, Energy and Utilities (EE&U) Research Director, IBM Institute for Business Value
- Jane Cheung, Consumer Industry Research Lead, IBM Institute for Business Value

What's worth more — the present or the future?
This paradoxical question is top of mind for consumers, businesses and governments in the era of climate change.

As extreme environmental events become ever-more common, people are carefully weighing short-term expectations, such as convenience and cost-efficiency, against the existential need to preserve the planet for future generations.

In January 2020, the World Economic Forum reported that nearly half of European citizens—and three in four Chinese citizens—consider climate change a major threat to society. And in the U.S., Pew Research found that public concern for environmental protection reached a new precipice in February 2020: it rivaled the economy as the U.S. public’s top policy priority for the first time in Pew’s survey history, coming in second by just three percentage points.

93 percent of global consumers say COVID-19 influenced their views on sustainability.

That was before the pandemic. The unprecedented disruption COVID-19 caused may have pushed consumers past a tipping point. To understand how the events of the last year impacted public perception of sustainability and social responsibility, the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) surveyed more than 14,000 adults from nine countries (Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) in March.

Our research revealed that the pandemic significantly shifted people’s perspectives on environmental sustainability. A full 93 percent of global respondents say COVID-19 affected their view.

An era of empathy
Today, more than two in three global respondents say environmental issues are significantly (very or extremely) important to them personally. Securing fresh water supplies ranked highest on their list of concerns, followed by reducing pollution, protecting rainforests and other ecosystems and reducing species loss.

A similar portion of people are focused on social responsibility issues, with roughly three in four consumers saying access to education and ensuring good health and well-being are significantly important to them. 72 percent said the same of ending poverty and hunger.

This alignment speaks to the reality of achieving social and environmental goals. Good health isn’t possible without clean water. You can’t protect nature without addressing poverty, as well. Our research infers that many consumers have connected those dots.

Putting a premium on sustainability: Today, 22 percent more consumers say environmental responsibility is very or extremely important when choosing a brand than in 2019.

Getting Solar Done

As personal values take center stage, consumers are voting with cold, hard cash. And acting on sustainable strategies early will put businesses in a better position to earn long-term consumer loyalty and trust.

Download the full report to see how consumer behavior is shifting in regard to shopping, investing, employment and travel.