Opportunities for NZ businesses as Kiwis commit to sustainability

By Nikki Wright

New Zealander's commitment to sustainability continues to rise, presenting new opportunities for business leaders and brands.

Kantar, with the Sustainable Business Council, has just released its Better Futures report 2022, in partnership with Sustainable Business Council, surveying Kiwis response to the pandemic and sustainability.

Huge opportunities for brands and business leaders are emerging, with the research confirming that Kiwis are seeking leadership from brands and businesses to help them navigate sustainable decisions.

Eight in 10 New Zealanders show belief in the need to live more sustainably, providing significant opportunities for NZ businesses. If communicated correctly, brands can work to solve consumers' tensions, making it easier for them to connect to and choose your brand.

Heres what you need to know:

  • Commitment to sustainable behaviours continues to grow as 43% of Kiwis are committed to living a sustainable lifestyle, with the third year in a row this has continued to rise
  • The main issue for New Zealanders is the cost of living, and this is the first-year mental wellbeing has made it into the top 10 concerns
  • Sustainable lifestyle behaviour has increased with an uplift in circular shopping
  • Concern about the impact of climate change is back, having dropped during the pandemic and now at 51%
  • Waste, plastic, and packaging continue to be the key environmental concerns.

The pressing concerns facing Kiwis of emotional and financial wellbeing, as well as other various stresses and pandemic impacts, have left less energy to make sustainable decisions, even though interest and behaviour in the area are increasing.

For the first time, the physical and emotional effortrequired to make more sustainable decisions has emerged as a barrier, with a sizeable 63% identifying it as a factor.

With people seeking leadership from brands and businesses to help them navigate the barriers to sustainability, as well as their conflicting emotions, large opportunities arise. Brands can step in here, and individuals have confirmed they would like, and need this guidance.

Global sustainability consumer trends show:

  • 66% of people across 20 markets believe its important for brands to be committed to making our society better”
  • 74% warn that companies who place profits before people will lose their trust forever
  • 87% would like to be informed of companies' efforts to address the environmental situation

Here in NZ, we have our particular sustainability challenges, with this research proving we are also following the same trajectory as the rest of the world.

Kiwis sustainable behaviours are becoming more normative, seen with circular shopping and a very clear commitment to sustainable living. Strong emotions are appearing also, with 44% of NZers worriedabout climate change and 24% feeling helpless in the matter.

Individuals are empowered to take action when they feel they can make a tangible impact, such as with recycling, upcycling, and reselling. Companies thriving in this space are also sharing the positive and clear impact of the business and consumers actions towards a sustainable future. 

Brands with clear sustainability messaging benefit significantly

Brands who have taken sustainability on board, with clear marketing and communications efforts, are reaping benefits.

The report signifies that NZ companies leading in sustainability are advantaged by having weaved it into their values, ethos, and products. And, other NZ brands are beginning to get noticeable traction with clear and compelling sustainable messages.

Brands with a clear sustainability message, such as ecostore and Fairtrade, continue to win, with the public agreeing that they are leaders in sustainability. NZ brands can take inspiration from global names too, from IKEA to Ben & Jerrys, which have successfully added sustainability to their strategy.

Companies can jump on these opportunities by identifying environmental issues that are meaningful and empower consumers to take action. This is a challenge that can be solved with powerful and effective communications.

This new research shows that a lack of messaging clarity from businesses continues to have a clear impact on peoples inaction in making sustainable decisions. If there is a lack in messaging clarity, there is a lack of action. This also offers a hugely opportune role for brands to communicate powerful sustainability messages.

New Zealanders expect business and brands to lead on sustainability, but they are also sceptical, particularly GenZ, proving a unique communications challenge that can be solved with analysis, strategy, and messaging.

Younger Kiwis, age 18-24, are particularly driven to make sustainable purchasing decisions, with the majority (61%) considering a brand's involvement in environmental and social issues before they buy.  Already, 15% of GenZ take brands' impact seriously, influencing their likelihood to purchase, and if the local and global trends continue, this too is likely to increase.

How brands can tap into these opportunities  

After a situational analysis of messaging and companies' practices, identifying and speaking into the major barriers to behavioural change is necessary.

The United Nations advises that overcoming barriers to sustainability is achieved by closing the value-action gap.

In New Zealand, this means that Kiwis barriers of affordability(71%) and effort(63%), even more so now due to the impact of the pandemic, if addressed correctly by organisations, can not only boost brands visibility and connection to consumers but can also result in long-term consumer behavioural shifts.

As always, successful communication is a delicate balancing act between emotive pain points and inspiring motivation. If the messaging is right, even those who are not engaged with the topic can be reached. If the messaging is right, new opportunities for companies with excellent messaging in this space will continue to emerge.

This report clearly depicts an increasingly global and local trend of the necessity for sustainable messaging and processes, which is likely to continue to rise. Companies who are situated or pivot in this area are likely to continue also to benefit.

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