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Voice of the Industry: Sustainability Survey 2023 Key Insights

8/23/2023
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Amid the cost-of-living crisis, geopolitical tensions, and climate disasters, sustainability gains momentum, compelling action from both businesses and governments. As stakeholders, especially governments, exert greater influence, the urgency for climate-conscious measures has intensified, thrusting sustainability into sharper focus.

74% of global corporations mentioned their companies face at least some pressure from governments for climate action

Source: Euromonitor Voice of the Industry: Sustainability Survey

In this context, the integration and effective execution of sustainable strategies by corporations take centre stage. A pivotal component lies in the precise and reliable communication of these initiatives, so it not only bolsters resilience in the face of impending regulations but also aligns with the expectations of discerning consumers.

Drawing insights from its Voice of the Industry: Sustainability Survey and Sustainability Product Claims Tracker, Euromonitor International offers valuable perspectives on how businesses conceptualise, manage, and convey sustainability efforts, while also helping to understand how businesses are strategically using product claims in communicating sustainability to the informed consumer base.

Here are three out of the five key takeaways from Euromonitor International´s Voice of the Industry: Sustainability Survey 2023 report.

Sustainability vertical integration breaks internal barriers

Sustainability is a difficult topic to define. Too many metrics and definitions are confusing not only consumers but also companies, as they struggle to align on how to plan, implement and measure sustainability initiatives. Hence, it is important that there is internal consensus around the topic so sustainability strategies can be vertically implemented across the entire organisation to form part of the core business.

When asked about sustainability’s meaning, limiting environmental impact remains at the top of businesses’ minds. Yet, to comply with stricter stakeholders' demand for more technical and precise reporting, corporates are increasingly linking sustainability to internationally standardised initiatives, such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).Sustainability Survey chart1.svg

Organisations must begin by looking inward and developing a comprehensive sustainability strategy that is deeply ingrained in their core business and vertically implemented. Increasing internal awareness and transversal alignment in key departments, such as procurement and production, is key to unleashing a company´s capacity to defeat silo mentality, cut costs and cover affordable sustainability needs.

Companies can benefit from leading the fight against climate change

As we approach the critical Paris Agreement 2025 deadline, climate action has taken centre stage on the global agenda.

84% of respondents recognise the importance of climate change, marking a significant 2.3 percentage points increase from last year

Source: Euromonitor Voice of the Industry: Sustainability Survey

Despite decreasing uncertainty around whether strategies are being developed within companies, this remains the leading response in 2023. However, a shift towards real action is seen this year, as an increasing number of corporates state that their companies are considering or actively developing net-zero carbon strategies in line with UN recommendations and agreement among experts that adopting these strategies is becoming increasingly important.Sustainability Survey chart2.svg

Even with fewer corporates mentioning their companies currently having such strategies in place, greater investments and efforts are expected to be driven towards net-zero and carbon reduction strategies as corporates are aware that this could impact their resilience in the long term. For instance, increased regulation of transport and power mean increasing costs for supply chains, demonstrating how valuable local production can be while enabling companies to benefit from greater circular incentives, such as the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles.

Embracing accountability and ESG reporting

As the demands for accountability and transparency regarding sustainability initiatives continue to escalate from both consumers and regulators, companies find themselves facing a critical challenge. Despite this increasing pressure, most businesses still struggle with effectively communicating their sustainability efforts to stakeholders.

Less than 25% of global companies in 2023 express confidence in the extreme effectiveness of their sustainability communication

Source: Euromonitor Voice of the Industry: Sustainability Survey

In the global corporate landscape, sustainability and CSR reports still stand out as highly prominent. However, comparing information between companies can be challenging due to inconsistencies, and some regulators express concerns about the reliability of reported data. The push for standardisation in defining terms and metrics is rapidly gaining momentum. In fact, corporations publishing ESG reports experienced a six percentage points surge during the 2022-2023 period.

At the same time, in 2023, the industry witnessed a significant decline in responses from experts across all channels, except for branded sustainability platforms. Product claims and packaging suffered the most, with many companies opting for silence amid fears of public backlash and stricter greenwashing regulations. However, both regulators and consumers now demand data-driven evidence of companies' environmental efforts. To achieve compliance, businesses must effectively communicate their sustainable practices across multiple channels.Sustainability Survey chart3.svg

Hence, to fortify their commitments, bolster consumer loyalty, and foster engagement, companies must not only focus on educational campaigns but also deliver compelling messages. Despite consumer awareness of climate change and willingness to act, there remains a need to enhance their comprehension and trust in sustainable labels.

Learn more about Sustainability in our report, Voice of the Industry: Sustainability Survey and visit our Sustainability page for further insights into where to play and how to win with sustainable claims.

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