British consumers demand green products in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic

Posted on 28 Oct 2020 by Tom Lane

More than a third (36%) of Brits are buying more from companies with strong environmental credentials as priorities shift during the pandemic new research shows.

A new report by E.ON shows that consumers are seeking out green sustainable products and services and environmentally friendly businesses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

A third of Brits (36%) surveyed have made a big shift in their buying habits, actively seeking out businesses with strong environmental credentials. A further four in five (80%) say they are planning to purchase goods and services from businesses they know have made a concerted effort to be environmentally friendly.

Speaking with small business owners and consumers across the UK, E.ON’s Renewable Returns report looks at the impact of the pandemic on consumer and business behaviour as well as the potential for a ‘green economic recovery’ and the ways in which small and medium-sized businesses can benefit from it.

The research confirms that Covid-19 has radically changed consumer purchasing habits and that concerns about the environment are becoming more important in persuading people what to buy – and who to buy it from. Of the consumers surveyed, 72% said they pay attention to whether a business acts in a climate-friendly way, and 65% feel it’s important the products or services they buy do not harm the environment.

Michael Lewis, CEO of E.ON UK, commented on the report by saying: “The coronavirus pandemic has heightened people’s concerns around the climate crisis and this has brought the environmental footprint of the products and services we buy into sharp focus.”

He continued: “Small businesses are the engine of the British economy, and we can help make sure they’re equipped to take maximum advantage of the green economic recovery – providing the smart, personalised and sustainable solutions they need to be part of the new energy world. That means providing everything from 100% renewables-backed electricity at no extra cost for our direct customers3, to smart meters and new technologies such as electric vehicle charging, solar panels and battery storage.”

Sustainability green eco sustainable industrial development concept factory - Shutterstock

The increase in demand for sustainable products was most noticeable in London, where more than half (52%) of consumers said they’d changed their habits in this way. The shift was also particularly noticeable among millennials (those now in their 20s and 30s), with over half (54%) saying they now buy more from green businesses – however, the research shows people of all ages are now seeking more sustainable products

With regards to repeat business and referrals, more than three-quarters (78%) said they were more likely to recommend a business if they knew it made a sustained effort to be environmentally friendly.

Agriculture was the sector that had seen the biggest pressure for change, with 87% of small businesses saying their customers showed increased concern about the environment compared to last year. Nearly nine in ten (88%) SMEs in the agricultural sector also believe their appeal would be enhanced if they could demonstrate the progress they were making with regards to sustainability.