UN Sustainable Development Goals: How can they help the brands?

In 2015, the United Nations set up their Sustainable Development Goals which aims to globally promote sustainability and encompasses all aspects of corporate social responsibility. The 17 goals cover key issues such as equality, health, clean energy and the protection of wildlife.

But who really knows about the goals?

In our Great Green Sustainability Study, we found that awareness of the SDGs is low, with over half of consumers in the UK saying they know nothing about them. Familiarity is higher amongst the under 35s, consistent with other research we have conducted which has shown this age cohort are increasingly aware of the different sustainability challenges, initiatives and regulations.

Can brands still benefit?

Despite awareness of the goals being low, over three-quarters of consumers would still view a company more favourably if they supported any of the UN goals. This demonstrates the importance of communicating such initiatives in order to improve the likeability of a brand. Customers like to know that the companies they are giving business to are a force for good and not just focused purely on profits.

Which goals should be a priority?

The goals that resonate the most with consumers vary depending on the industry that they’re thinking about. Overall, No Poverty, Affordable and Clean Energy and Climate Action are deemed as the SDGs that businesses should prioritise.

However, it’s not as simple as applying a broad-brush approach as the priorities vary by industry. For example, as expected, Good Health & Well-being should be the focus for fitness companies, whilst Zero Hunger should be the focus for food delivery services. Unsurprisingly, energy suppliers and fuel companies have more of a responsibility to focus on Affordable and Clean Energy, but banks are tasked with the most important goal of working towards No Poverty.

While businesses should be implementing sustainability strategies which cover most of the SDGs, if not all, communication needs to remain focused on the goals most relevant to their industry in order to resonate with consumers.

To find out more about our Great Green Sustainability Study or how we can help you with sustainability research, contact Tom Gould, Head of Consumer, on tom.gould@impactmr.com.

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