Consumers demand immediate action on sustainable TMT
TMT industry stakeholders should trade their long-term sustainability goals for immediate action plans to meet the growing consumer demand for more ethical services and products.
As many as 80% of consumers prefer to see companies taking immediate action rather than providing “long-term promises”, and 32% said they are more likely to trust short-term targets ahead of long-term goals.
The figures were published in EY’s study of sustainability in the TMT industry, based on the views of 2,000 respondents in the UK. EY concluded that “consumers have become more alert to unethical and unsustainable practices, showing a clear desire to act more responsibly to benefit future generations”.
The shift in attitudes is also influencing brand loyalty, with 63% saying they would switch service providers or suppliers if they were using a significant amount of single-use plastic.
Elsewhere, 56% said they would be willing to pay slightly more for environmentally sustainable TMT products and services, and the younger the customer base the stronger the demand for sustainable business models. While an average 45% of respondents said they would be “willing to compromise on quality” for more sustainable TMT services, that figure jumped to 60% among 18 to 24-year-olds.
Praveen Shankar, EY’s head of TMT for the UK and Ireland, said: “Sustainability is resonating strongly with the consumers, influencing how they view brands, and is impacting their attitudes towards how they buy products and services. TMT providers have a real opportunity to unlock more customer value and differentiate their offering by putting sustainability at the heart of their approach. This will be crucial in maintaining relevance and reaching out to an ethically conscious customer segment.”
For many of the respondents, sustainability messages were a means for operators to stand out from the crowd, with 51% confirming this to be the case. However, many remain sceptical with 71% of consumers believing companies only promote sustainability as a PR exercise to ‘look good’ while 69% questing whether sustainability and ethnical sourcing claims by companies are true.
Offering hope, EY found a “clear appetite” from consumers to learn more about corporate sustainability, with 65% of households saying sustainability credentials should be available and 70% of consumers saying price comparison sites should include sustainability criteria to help inform their choices.
Adrian Baschnonga, global lead telecommunications analyst at EY added: “The pandemic has changed consumer spending habits and behaviours. Coupled with calls for a green recovery, there is a new urgency to the sustainability agenda and, as our research shows, is impacting how consumers view TMT service providers.
“Providers need to harness this sentiment and take action to underline the sincerity of their sustainability agenda. Consumer-friendly messaging and more readily available information will go a long way to achieving this. Ultimately, a new type of customer dialogue is essential.”
Praveen concluded: “To succeed in a market where sustainability is proving increasing critical to customer behaviour, TMT providers need to embed clear and meaningful sustainability promises into their business model. Long-term targets that are often decades away can, in some cases, be difficult to comprehend and may disengage consumers. Immediate action combined with simple messaging that resonates with the language of your customers will be incredibly impactful in strengthening customer loyalty.
“More broadly, TMT providers are in a unique position as engines of cross-sector transformation, to drive sustainable and ethical practices, not just for customers but also for wider society.”