There is no point in multiplying communications around potential environmental liabilities, consumers are not deceived and expect real action and transparency. That’s according to new research from the UK, which says the fashion industry is among the least trusted sectors in the industry.
Green washing, French washing or sports washing… Since the Covid-19 pandemic, it is impossible to ignore these terms that have grown at an alarming rate to denounce the deceptive actions of certain brands to improve their reputation in certain areas, including the environment. Many companies today still talk about their commitment to selling “Made in France”, environmentally responsible or ethical products, but they are not.
Another phenomenon, green hushing, is becoming a fear for brands that actually produce in an environmentally responsible way to communicate their approach. It is enough to lose consumers who don’t know who to trust in this information maelstrom. As a result, mistrust of brands prevails more than ever. According to a survey of 1,682 Britons by Sensu Insight*, the fashion industry is one of the least trusted sectors in the eyes of consumers.
Across all sectors, less than a quarter (23%) of British consumers say they fully accept brands’ environmental statements. Among the least accepting, a minority say they simply don’t believe the claims (14%), three in ten believe they are exaggerated, and a large majority (71%) believe they have probably not been verified or controlled by an independent expert. or regulator.
However, some sectors receive more public favor than others. Supermarkets, large retailers, the technology sector or food and beverage manufacturers have more credit among consumers than airlines, car manufacturers or fashion brands. More specifically, only 35% of respondents say they would trust statements made by fashion brands. Only two sectors are worse: airlines (32%) and travel agencies (33%). On the other hand, supermarkets and large retailers receive the support of more than half of the respondents (51%).
For example, in the fashion sector, Sensu Insight mentions the greening that was condemned by internet users after Swedish giant H&M appointed Maisie Williams as its sustainability ambassador.
“Critics felt it was a marketing ploy and that the money would be better spent on the company’s commitment to a living wage for garment workers.”– said the authors of the report.
The need for complete transparency
Companies should make no mistake about it, consumers are not fooled and should not appreciate that some are trying to mislead them with misleading communications. More than nine out of ten respondents (93%) think they have encountered what they consider to be an example of greenwashing in the past month. Targeted? So-called sustainable brands that don’t back up their claims with facts or figures (33%), misleading advertising (32%) and false or overstated claims about product recycling (30%).
As a result, consumers change their behavior by reducing the budget allocated to a particular brand (23%), boycotting it (15%) or switching to a truly ethical or environmentally responsible company (13%) (59%). . According to the study, to regain public trust, brands need to demonstrate greater transparency and (real) commitment to the environment; This is not the case for 92% of respondents. But while transparency is key for most respondents (86%), it should also take concrete measures, such as offering sustainable versions of existing products (24%). This study, although only for the UK, proves that companies still have a long way to go to gain public trust when it comes to the environment.
*This research was conducted by Sensu Insight in October 2022 on a nationally representative sample of 1,682 UK people.