Most Canadians Skeptical about Product Sustainability Claims

There is a substantial disconnect between how brands and consumers regard sustainability claims and products.

According to a report by Deloitte Canada, 57 per cent of Canadian consumers do not believe most green claims brands make, while business leaders think the public has a significant or moderate level of trust in the authenticity of those claims.

“Companies are falling into a false sense of security, believing that if they just produce a seemingly better product and bring any sustainability claim to it, it’s going to do well. What’s missing is the strategic thinking behind the product’s creation,” says Joe Solly, partner, risk advisory, and Ontario leader for sustainability and climate change at Deloitte Canada. “Embedding purpose as part of the entire value chain can have a lasting and powerful impact on brands. Those that dive deeper into understanding their consumers and the values that motivate purchase behaviours will get ahead with truly sustainable products and won’t be accused of greenwashing.”

The report shows 41 per cent of businesses underestimate the risks of greenwashing accusations if they pursue sustainability goals. Those surveyed seem largely unconcerned or unaware of how consumers perceive their sustainable product or the potential impacts that greenwashing allegations could have on their brand.

Meanwhile, nearly half of consumers are not willing to pay extra for sustainable products, stating it is hard to identify those that are genuinely ‘green.’ Consumers are more likely to purchase a product if it is truly sustainable but need more information to help them make that decision. Almost all surveyed believe it is a brand’s responsibility to create green products, and they want companies to make sustainability integral to their business and purpose.

“It starts with a commitment by leadership and a holistically integrated approach to sustainable practices, from design, supply, manufacturing (and) transportation all the way to marketing,” says Solly. “This is how brands can build consumer trust and strengthen the case that sustainable products are indeed the better choice and offer the highest value. With more rigorous regulations about sustainability claims on the horizon, businesses need to ensure they can back up what they are telling consumers.”

Deloitte says brands can close the trust gap and achieve business success by committing to established third-party certifications and working relentlessly to communicate the advancement of sustainability goals.

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