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Will ethical consumption and green business boom after Covid-19?

May 28
Tags: Accenture, KPMG LLP
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Will ethical consumption and green business boom after...

The Covid-19 health crisis has caused unprecedented disruption for companies, industries and economies in 2020. But as more governments around the world take steps towards a 'new normal' in the wake of the pandemic, two of the biggest names in the professional services sector have said how they think the business environment could and should change in the future.

KPMG has called on British firms to "take the lead on climate risk", while an Accenture study has pointed to a stronger consumer focus on ethical consumption.

Stretching horizons

According to KPMG, the government and the corporate community's efforts to help the economy recover from the impact of coronavirus should place a big emphasis on sustainability and the green agenda.

A law passed in the UK in June 2019 committed the country to ending its contribution to global warming by 2050. More than 100 other countries, states and cities have agreed to similar measures or are considering them.

The response from businesses, however, remains "patchy and inconsistent", despite the "ambitious plans" unveiled by some of the country's leading brands, KPMG said.

There are also concerns that issues like sustainability and the impact businesses are having on the environment could fall down the list of priorities because of the postponement of the COP26 UN conference on climate change. The event was due to take place in Glasgow this year but has been delayed until 2021 at the earliest.

Simon Weaver, energy and natural resources partner at KPMG UK, referred to recent research showing that 67% of the British public care more about the environmental impact of their consumption now than they did five years ago. A further 62% said they're looking to businesses to ensure their consumption is responsible.

"The immediate pressures on boards can make it difficult to stop and reflect, but taking the time to think about climate risks, running scenarios and making the relevant changes to business models and strategies can help us stretch the corporate and political planning horizons," he added.

'Long-term shift' in consumer habits

Publishing the findings of a survey of more than 3,000 people in 15 countries, Accenture said the Covid-19 pandemic looks set to permanently change consumer behaviour and cause "lasting structural changes" to the consumer goods and retail industries.

Conducted between April 2nd and 6th, after many countries had introduced lockdown restrictions, the study showed that most people were buying more personal hygiene products, cleaning items, and canned and fresh foods than they had been two weeks earlier.

The firm said it was particularly important to note that these changes in buying behaviour are likely to continue "long after the pandemic".

Other key findings showed:

  • 64% of consumers are focusing more on limiting food waste and will likely continue to do so going forward
  • 50% of shoppers are being more health conscious in their buying choices
  • 45% of people are making more sustainable choices when shopping

Oliver Wright, managing director and head of Accenture's global consumer goods practice, said: "The scale of the changes identified in our findings clearly suggest that this is a long-term shift. While we have been seeing these trends for some time, what's surprising is the scale and pace - compressing into a matter of weeks changes that would likely have taken years."

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