The launch of the 2018 Sustainable Brand Index is almost around the corner. After around 35 000 consumer interviews and more than 900 brand assessments in 5 countries, the results for 2018 are almost here. This April, the most sustainable brands of 2018 in all Nordics countries and the Netherlands will be announced.
But next to these yearly brand analyses, relevant trends and consumer behaviours are mapped out. In the anticipation of this year's results, let's take some time to reflect on some of last year's insights around sustainability. What prevailed in 2017 and what will 2018 bring?
In 2017, on-going polarisation in societies caused a clear negative trend regarding the belief in a better future in all Nordic countries. From all Nordic countries, Finnish consumers were still a little more cautious about being positive to the future.
Furthermore, consumer trust in companies greatly reduced compared to previous years. The greatest decay was seen in Norway, where the proportion of consumers with trust in companies decreases from 31% to 18%. The trust in companies is generally low in all Nordic countries. This creates great difficulties for companies in communicating about sustainability. On the one hand, companies are seen as harmful. On the other, consumers increasingly expect companies to solve the world's problems, rather than the government.
However, data shows that companies do dare to communicate sustainability more and more. The food and beverage industry, both producers and retailers, are still the one that are seen and heard most within sustainability. With that, the hottest topics in communication about sustainability in 2017 were climate change and diversity/equality.
We could finally say that we reach a point where sustainability has become an essential part of a brand's communication. Not addressing it means that consumers and other stakeholders become confused (at best), or even suspicious. At the same time sustainability communication has been increasingly influenced by modern day opinion leaders in social media, which complicates issues of transparency and truth.
On a more positive note the importance of sustainability was growing in 2017.
More people than ever thought of sustainability in their purchasing decisions. In 2017 data shows that the proportion of consumers who are paying 10% more for a sustainable alternative is quite high in all Nordic countries. Between 33% and 41%. When paying as much as 25% more for a sustainable alternative, still one fifth of consumers choose to pay more for sustainability.