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New global public-opinion research from GlobeScan reveals that people need and want help from brands to change their lifestyles to become healthier and more sustainable.
Despite the global COVID-19
pandemic, results from
GlobeScan’s 2020 Healthy & Sustainable Living Study show that people
remain concerned about the environment and climate change, and most would like
to adopt both healthier and more sustainable behaviors. However, not all have
been able to follow through.
The study of 27 countries was conducted in June 2020, during the height of the
pandemic for many. In total, 27,000 people were asked about their attitudes,
opinions and behaviors linked to facilitating healthier and more sustainable
lifestyles. The study was collaboratively designed and launched with a range of
partners — including CVS
Visa, WWF International and
others — to help companies better understand the mindsets of people globally and
how to best help them make changes.
Although the pandemic and subsequent recession have certainly intensified
people’s worries around health and the economy, the study finds that
environmental and climate concerns remain surprisingly strong. Across the 27
markets surveyed, the proportions saying that climate change is a “very serious”
problem have remained relatively steady everywhere — except in China, where
it has increased. In the US, attitudes toward climate change are aligning
with the rest of the world as proportions regarding the issue as “very serious”
continue to trend upward.
Despite parallel global crises, people have become more likely to claim they
would like to reduce their impact on the environment and nature by a large
amount; and are also more likely to agree that we need to consume less to
preserve the environment for future generations. A majority now at least
somewhat agree that they feel guilty about their own negative impact on the
environment, up from 43 percent last year. Brands need to be conscious of, and
responsive to, the strengthening of environmental consciousness among consumers
during this unique time.
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According to the study, large proportions of people globally are willing to
change their own behaviors to become healthier, more environmentally friendly,
and more helpful to others. As many as six in ten (61 percent) say they want to
change their lifestyle a great deal to be healthier, while half (50 percent)
want to change “a great deal” to be more environmentally sustainable and close
to another half (47 percent) want to do the same to be more altruistic.
Relatively large proportions are also open to modest changes in their
Fewer, however, say they have managed to make substantial changes in their own
lives over the past year — suggesting a significant need for brands to step up
and help make it
While as many as three in ten (31 percent) say they have made major changes to
be healthier — citing actions such as more exercise and heathier eating; and
quitting unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking — only about one in four
have made major changes to become more environmentally friendly (25 percent) or
more helpful to others (24 percent).
Those who have made changes to become more sustainable tend to say they have
reduced their use of plastics; or are managing their waste better by sorting,
recycling and reusing more, as well as cutting down on packaging. Many also
mention that they have made a switch to more environmentally friendly products.
Altruistic actions tend to be associated with charitable donations, volunteering
time, or supporting friends and family in need. Brands can help more consumers
engage in these types of actions that many are already doing, especially by
making it easier to choose more sustainable
Younger generations are consistently more eager to make a significant effort to
become healthier, more environmentally friendly and more helpful to others. As
many as seven in ten Gen Z
(70 percent) and two-thirds of Millennials (66 percent) say they want to become
healthier. Four in ten Gen Z respondents (40 percent) and Millennials (37
percent) have also followed through by making major changes to become healthier,
in contrast to far fewer of those belonging to Gen X (29 percent) and Baby
Boomers+ (20 percent). While a large gap between intention and action persists
for all generations, younger generations are clearly the most in need of
assistance and present the largest opportunity for brands to help facilitate
Not surprisingly, the study found that when trying to be healthier and more
sustainable, people across the world are more likely to alter aspects of their
life if they perceive it to be easy to do so — emphasizing the need for brands
to communicate effectively to change perceptions and to make user-friendliness
and accessibility a priority. Simply speaking, people are put off by actions
they believe are difficult.
Typically, the behaviors that people think of as relatively easy to do more of
are associated with improving personal wellbeing (e.g., eating healthy food),
ethical purchasing (e.g., choosing products with less packaging, buying from
responsible brands), and actions within the household (e.g., saving water). More
“difficult” changes tend to involve adapting new technologies (e.g., using an
electric or hybrid car, generating/buying renewable energy) or participating in
new economic models (e.g., renting furniture or clothes, sharing mobility
devices). Perceptions of these emerging behaviors is likely negatively affected
by a lack of awareness, access and affordability.
Findings show that affordability is particularly important when encouraging the
uptake of healthy and sustainable behaviors. When asked what companies could do
to help them, people are most likely to point to more affordable products and
services, followed by product innovation. Results of this study confirm the
importance and urgency of doing so at scale, since people say they are ready and
Download the 2020 Healthy & Sustainable Living Study highlights report
Register to attend the Healthy & Sustainable Living Webinar* on 7 October
2020 at 11am New York / 4pm London
Published Oct 7, 2020 9am EDT / 6am PDT / 2pm BST / 3pm CEST
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.