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IBM Study: COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted 9 In 10 Surveyed Consumers’ Views On Sustainability


-Global research reveals majority of consumers
are willing to pay to support a sustainable
future

ARMONK, N.Y., April 22, 2021
/PRNewswire/ — The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated
consumers’ focus on sustainability and willingness to pay
out of their own pockets – or even take a pay cut – for
a sustainable future, according to a new IBM Institute for
Business Value (IBV) survey
of over 14,000 consumers in nine countries.

Nine in 10
consumers surveyed reported the COVID-19 pandemic affected
their views on environmental sustainability, and COVID-19
was the top factor cited in influencing their view – more
than others presented such as widespread
wildfires/brushfires, disasters due to weather events and
news coverage on the topic.

The survey also revealed
differences in consumer opinion across geographies, with
Americans surveyed reporting the least concern about
sustainability topics. For example, only 51 percent of US
consumers surveyed said addressing climate change was very
or extremely important to them, compared to 73 percent of
respondents from all other countries.

“The survey
showed respondents worldwide are increasingly concerned
about the global climate crisis, and we have also observed
businesses in many industries looking to take action to meet
their customers’ and investors’ expectations and manage
their own environmental goals,” said Dr. Murray Simpson,
global lead for sustainability, climate & transition,
IBM Global Business Services. “We see many companies
beginning to make strides to build transparent supply chains
or improve energy management to reduce carbon emissions with
the help of innovative technologies like AI and
Blockchain.”

According to the survey, many consumers
are increasingly willing to change how they shop, travel,
choose an employer and even where they make personal
investments due to environmental sustainability
factors.

Many surveyed employees are willing
to accept a lower salary to work at a
sustainability-conscious employer

According
to the survey, 71 percent of employees and employment
seekers surveyed say that environmentally sustainable
companies are more attractive employers. In addition, more
than two-thirds of the full potential workforce* respondents
are more likely to apply for and accept jobs with
environmentally and socially responsible organizations –
and nearly half surveyed would accept a lower salary to work
for such organizations.

At the same time, 48 percent
of consumers surveyed trust corporate commitments on
sustainability, with 64 percent of respondents expecting
increased public scrutiny in the year ahead.

Given
that one in four employees surveyed
in February 2021
plan to switch employers this year,
companies could face a risk of losing top talent to more
sustainability-conscious competitors.

Environmental
sustainability is affecting personal investment
decisions

Forty-eight percent of all personal
investors surveyed already take environmental sustainability
into account in their investment portfolios and a further
fifth (21 percent) surveyed say they are likely to do so in
the future. 59 percent of personal investors surveyed expect
to buy or sell holdings in the next year based on
environmental sustainability factors.

Many surveyed
shoppers and travelers are willing to pay more for
environmental sustainability

Despite the COVID-19
pandemic’s financial impact on many individuals, 54 percent
of consumers surveyed are willing to pay a premium for
brands that are sustainable and/or environmentally
responsible.

In addition, 55 percent of consumers
surveyed report sustainability is very or extremely
important to them when choosing a brand – 22 percent
higher than consumers
surveyed pre-COVID-19 pandemic by IBM
. Slightly more
than six in ten consumers surveyed said they are willing to
change their purchasing behavior to help reduce negative
impact on the environment, with consumers surveyed in India
(78 percent) and China (70 percent) being the most
willing.

With regards to travel, almost one in three
respondents strongly believe their personal travel habits
contribute to climate change. 82 percent of consumers
surveyed globally would choose a more environmentally
friendly transportation option even if it costs more, but
only 64 percent of American respondents agreed compared to
95 percent of Indian and 91 percent of Chinese
respondents.

Methodology
The IBM
Institute for Business Value surveyed more than 14,000
adults globally from nine countries (United States, India,
United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Brazil and
China) during March 2021 to better understand consumers’
opinions and perspectives on environmental
sustainability.

*Full potential workforce refers to
survey respondents who are employed full-time or part-time,
unemployed but currently seeking employment, or a full-time
student or apprentice.

About the IBM Institute
for Business Value
 
The IBM (NYSE: IBM)
Institute for Business Value (IBV) delivers trusted business
insights from our position at the intersection of technology
and business, combining expertise from industry thinkers,
leading academics, and subject matter experts with global
research and performance data. The IBV thought leadership
portfolio includes research deep dives, benchmarking and
performance comparisons, and data visualizations that
support business decision making across regions, industries
and technologies. Follow @IBMIBV on Twitter, and to receive
the latest insights by email, visit: www.ibm.com/ibv.

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