Consumers still demand ‘biodiversity’ efforts from brands

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers still demand ‘biodiversity’ efforts from brands
While a rising number of claims is being seen across beauty and personal care for natural and sustainable efforts, the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) says respecting biodiversity is still a central focus.

There is, the non-profit association says, a ‘major gap’ between what consumers want and what companies are doing to respect biodiversity.

The association’s recent surveys of more than 5,000 consumers in five countries indicate that the majority (79%) feel that “companies have a moral obligation” to have a positive impact on people and biodiversity in their sourcing of natural ingredients.

However, only 37% feel “confident that companies pay serious attention​” to these issues.  

The figures come from the UEBT’s newly published 2018 edition of the Biodiversity Barometer.

The report offers new insights as well as lessons from a decade of research on biodiversity awareness among over 60,000 consumers in sixteen countries, says the association. It can be accessed here​.

Sourcing with respect

The Biodiversity Barometer report was unveiled at the recent Beauty of Sourcing with Respect Conference.

The conference is an annual event in Paris that brings together executives from global beauty brands, as well as company leaders from the natural pharmaceutical, specialty food, and personal care sectors, in addition to non-profit experts, policymakers and others.  

Respondents in this year’s Biodiversity Barometer show a strong personal connection to biodiversity, says UEBT.

Indeed, 74% of those surveyed in the UEBT report agreed that it would “personally affect them” if biodiversity disappears. 

They find biodiversity conservation important for their personal well-being and that of future generations: more than 80% of people in France, Germany and Brazil said that biodiversity is important to their quality of life.

Rising awareness

According to UEBT, one positive finding from this year’s Biodiversity Barometer is that awareness and understanding of biodiversity is rising each year.

This year’s report suggests that biodiversity awareness is becoming more mainstream, beyond the well-educated and higher income brackets.

Indeed, awareness among people in low income brackets grew 15% over the last 10 years.

In addition, young consumers aged 16 to 24 who were able to define biodiversity correctly, grew 20% points, compared to 10% points growth in awareness across all those surveyed.

Growing awareness, along with a clear disparity between what consumers want from brands, and how few brands they can actually name that are ‘walking the talk,’ shows an incredible opportunity for business to take concrete action to position their brands as leaders in sourcing with respect for biodiversity and people​,” said Rik Kutsch Lojenga, UEBT’s Executive Director and a leading global expert on ethical sourcing.

Embrace biodiversity

Dr Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, said: “It is promising to see that consumers want action from business.”

She explained: “This trend shows the opportunity for businesses to embrace biodiversity at the core of their business models.

“The Biodiversity Barometer shows we are heading in the right direction to reach the global target of making people aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably. However much more still needs to be don​e”.

Natura and The Body Shop

The only brand that currently stands out among consumers on respect for people and biodiversity remains Natura Cosmetics in Brazil: 62% of respondents mentioned Natura.

Its sister brand, The Body Shop, was mentioned most often in the UK, but still with only 33% recognition.  

It must be noted that consumers might not be aware of the actions being taken to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity taken by other companies.

This latest Biodiversity Barometer report is encouraging businesses to seize the opportunities offered by growing consumer awareness and contribute to a world in which people and biodiversity thrive​,” said Dr Paşca Palmer.

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