At least six in ten (61%) global consumers say they would be less willing to buy a company’s product if they found it performed poorly on environmental practices, a new survey has revealed.

And the great majority of consumers (83%) believe their own behaviour and choices can have a positive impact on addressing global environmental challenges.

Yet according to ING Research, the analytics arm of the Dutch financial services firm, even though it says consumer attitudes about brands and the environment have reached a “tipping point”, it appears their best intentions are undermined by a lack of knowledge or guidance about how to make the most of the circular economy.

And consumers do mean well, according to ING’s survey of more than 15,000 people across 11 countries, because half (49%) say they would be willing to pay more for products made in an environmentally friendly way.

Furthermore, a similar proportion (48%) of those aged under 34 say they would boycott a food brand if they found it was failing to address environmental concerns.

Yet it appears consumers are often unsure about where to start when it comes to improving their green purchase credentials or they lack the confidence about how to follow more circular practices.

For example, only a fifth (21%) think electronics brands provide detailed information about the overall environmental impact of their products, 41% don’t know where to access repair services, 71% aren’t aware of device-sharing platforms and 39% can’t distinguish between recyclable and non-recyclable plastics.

The clothing industry is known to have a major impact on the environment, but 48% of global consumers do not repair clothes because they think they need extra skills to do so, while 41% think renting clothes would require a lot more effort.

And old-fashioned price is still a factor for many consumers, with 54% saying they would still choose low-cost, fast-fashion items over more expensive, more durable options.

Commenting on the findings, Joost van Dun, circular economy lead at ING Sustainable Finance, said: “Consumers around the world feel empowered to make a difference in the climate crisis. This sense of responsibility is leading many to not purchase products from companies they view as environmentally unfriendly.”

“But not everyone is a ‘sustainable champion’, and many consumers will only choose sustainable products or engage with circular practices if it’s cheaper or more convenient.”

“If companies are to realise the full potential of circular models and future proof their businesses, they must align their strategy to consumer preferences and make the transition to sustainability as frictionless as possible.”

Sourced from ING Research; additional content by WARC staff