There is no point in exaggerating any potential environmental commitments because consumers are not fooled and expect genuine action and transparency.
This is the conclusion of a new study carried out in the UK, which reveals that the fashion industry is perceived as one of the least trusted sectors in this regard.
From green and pink washes to rainbow washes and sports washes, since the Covid-19 pandemic, these expressions are everywhere, multiplying at high speed to condemn the deceptive actions of some brands that want to improve their reputation in certain areas, such as environmental performance .
Many companies still talk about their commitments to help sell products that are supposedly environmentally responsible or ethical or whatever, when they really aren’t.
And this phenomenon has led to another, greenhushing, which describes the fear or reluctance of brands that do produce in an environmentally responsible way to communicate their approach.
Consumers are at a loss as to who to trust in this maelstrom of information. As a result, mistrust of brands is more prevalent than ever.
These are the results of a survey by Sensu Insight of 1,682 adults in the UK, which reveals that the fashion industry is among the sectors least trusted by consumers.
Read more: If you already have a mountain of clothes, can you resist buying more this year?
Complete lack of trust
Across all sectors, just under a quarter of UK consumers (23%) say they take brands’ environmental claims for granted.
Among the less receptive, a minority simply do not believe the claims (14%), three in ten (30%) believe they are exaggerated, and the vast majority (71%) believe they are likely not verified or verified by an independent expert or regulator.
However, some sectors are doing better than others.
Supermarkets, large retailers, the technology sector and food and drink manufacturers seem to have more credibility with consumers than, for example, airlines, car manufacturers or fashion brands.
More precisely, only 35% of respondents say they will believe the claims of fashion brands.
Only two sectors fare worse: airlines (32%) and travel agencies (33%). On the other hand, more than half of respondents (51%) trust supermarkets and large retailers.
As an example in the fashion sector, Sensu Insight recalls the greenwashing condemned by internet users after Swedish giant H&M appointed Maisie Williams as ambassador for sustainable development.
“Critics felt that the move was a marketing ploy and that the money would be better spent meeting commitments to provide garment workers with a minimum wage,” the report’s authors said.
Read more: Can fast fashion continue to fuel overconsumption in the used goods market?
The need for transparency
Make no mistake, consumers are not fooled and they don’t like it when some companies try to smear their eyes with false communications.
More than nine out of ten respondents (93%) believe that in the last month they saw what they considered to be an example of greenwashing.
These include supposedly sustainable brands that do not back up their claims with facts or figures (33%), misleading advertising (32%) and false or exaggerated product recycling claims (30%).
As a result, consumers are changing their behavior (59%) by reducing spending on a particular brand (23%), boycotting it (15%) or switching to a truly ethical or environmentally responsible company (13%).
According to the study, to regain public trust, brands need to show more transparency and (genuine) commitment to the environment, which is currently not the case for 92% of respondents.
But if transparency is key for the majority of respondents (86%), this must also be achieved through concrete actions, such as offering sustainable versions of existing products (24%).
This study, although only in the UK, proves that companies still have a lot to do to gain public trust when it comes to being green. – AFP Relaxnews