We just downloaded our 2016 Eco Pulse findings with our Shelton Inner Circle members this week, and in order to contextualize the stats on belief in climate change, the Shelton research team decided to compare that level of belief with something perhaps a little more personal: belief in God.
A November 2013 Harris Poll revealed that 74% of Americans believe in God. Shelton’s 2016 Eco Pulse study reveals that 63% of Americans believe climate change is real and caused by man.
Now, it’s not that these two stats are related or that there’s any causality between them. But at Shelton Group, we do still get questions from clients and colleagues about whether or not there’s acceptance that climate change is real and whether it’s OK to talk about it. Belief in climate change isn’t quite as strong as belief in God … but the numbers aren’t that far apart. And I’d argue that many of us probably make assumptions in many of our social circles that we all agree about God. So use that as your context/comparison/anchor as you try and determine what your assumptions should be about belief in climate change and whether or not it’s OK to reference it at a cocktail party … and in your brand communications.
Another key finding in this year’s Eco Pulse study: it doesn’t matter how nice you are to trees if you’re mean to people. Especially if you’re mean to your employees. (And the “you” here is your brand or company.) This is the eighth year of this study, and we just keep seeing “how a company treats its employees … how a company commits to society/social issues” increasing in importance – so much so that it nearly rivals “environmental reputation” in importance. Further, we see several examples in our study of brands and companies well known for their environmental efforts get heavily “dinged” from a perception standpoint because of their social/employee treatment record.
Lastly, we’ve clearly moved beyond early adopters and into the early majority in terms of adoption of sustainability as a mainstream idea. It’s astounding the jumps we’ve seen in the last few years on the importance of sustainability to one’s self-image/how we want to be perceived. It’s also astounding the jumps we’ve seen in the percentage of Americans who claim to have stopped or started buying products based on a manufacturer’s environmental reputation – and can actually name the brand.
We’ll be writing more about all of this in the weeks to come, and we’ll be releasing a special report about consumer attitudes and behaviors related to water and water conservation in the next month or so. So be on the lookout.
In the meantime, if you’re still questioning whether or not your company should make a wholesale commitment to sustainability – and whether or not you should be shouting that commitment from the rooftops – the answer is yes. You’d better believe it.