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Actions Speak Louder: Bridging the Consumer Attitude/Behavior Gap

There’s truth in the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” An excellent example of this in practice is the disconnect between consumer attitudes and beliefs about sustainability, and their role in it, and the confusing lack of follow-through in helping to achieve it.

A number of recent consumer research studies have revealed increasing public awareness of environmental and social issues, and interest in sustainably produced products and other aspects of more conscious living, while also revealing a perplexing contradiction between these views and their actions and purchasing decisions.

For example, in the National Geographic Society’s 2012 Greendex survey, U.S. consumers ranked last of 17 countries surveyed in sustainable behavior, and were among the least likely to feel guilty about the impact they have on the environment — yet nearly 50% believe their individual choices could make a difference in the world. On the flip side, the study showed that consumers who feel the guiltiest about their impact  those in China, India and Brazil  make the most sustainable consumer choices but are least confident that individual action can help the environment.

“Why do consumers express values that favor more sustainable consumer behaviours yet fail to act accordingly? What are the key barriers and constraints to the mass adoption of greener lifestyles? How can society foster more sustainable consumer behaviours?” The Sustainable Consumption Institute’s ongoing Modeling Consumer Behavior research project, a study in collaboration with UK retail giant Tesco, will attempt to answer these questions and more when the study concludes at the end of this year.

In the meantime, representatives from these and other field experts will take part in a stellar consumer research panel this November at the SB London Conference. The panel will shed some much-needed light on the consumer psyche, and Raphael Bemporad, Founding Partner & Chief Strategy Officer for BBMG, will announce the results of their exciting joint project with SustainAbility and Globescan, a consumer study based on the Regeneration Roadmap initiative.


Sally Uren - Deputy Chief Executive, Forum for the Future

David North - Executive Director, Sustainable Consumption Institute

Raphael Bemporad - Founding Partner & Chief Strategy Officer, BBMG

Joseph Staton - Director & General Manager, GfK Group

Charlie Attenborough - Managing Director, International Advertising, National Geographic


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