How does a company’s commitment to sustainability translate into its brand image and how does it guide consumer spending?
Philip Morris Management Services (PMMS) Middle East’s latest survey attempts to provide an answer to this question.
The company’s 4SiGHT-conducted survey spotlights the influence a company’s sustainability efforts have on consumers’ behaviour and choice of brands.
Conducted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait, the survey provides insight into the role of sustainable practices in consumer decisions.
Drawing on the findings of more than 2,000 respondents across the three GCC states, the survey revealed that a 76 per cent majority agree that a company’s sustainability efforts impact consumer choices for products.
Meanwhile, among KSA and UAE participants, 84 per cent and 81 per cent respectively agree on the importance of a company acting sustainably. Similarly, across KSA, UAE and Kuwait, 68 per cent would pay more for an item if the company selling it demonstrated sustainable practices.
Points of focus
The survey also scopes the corporate sustainability efforts considered most relevant to consumers today.
The need to protect the environment through sustainable practices that address social and environmental challenges, like child labour and agricultural workers, was found to be the most relevant. Across all three countries, this opinion scored a 94.3 per cent average approval rating.
Additionally, when asked about their environmental concerns, pollution was identified as the most concerning factor. Sixty-four per cent agreed on this in Kuwait, followed by 56 per cent in KSA and 61 per cent in the UAE.
Meanwhile, the majority of respondents across all nations believed that committing to environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals best defined a company as ‘sustainable’. This finding strongly indicates that tangible action is now a necessity if a company is to engage with consumers.
This data arrives just as the Central Bank of Kuwait confirmed that it is to prioritise ESG products in its regulatory sandbox.
Tarkan Demirbas, area vice president of PMMS, emphasises how businesses must commit to sustainable practices because their consumers “recognise the importance of protecting the environment; now and in the future.”
“Businesses need to clearly define goals and hold themselves accountable to the promises that they are making,” continues Demirbas.
“Being a more sustainably minded company brings a clear competitive advantage as the survey shows.”
Starting at home
The survey comes at a time when Phillip Morris International’s (PMI) own transformation is shaping its sustainable future.
Most notably, PMI has committed to switching 40 million current adult smokers to its smoke-free products by 2025. This joins its target that smoke-free products account for more than half of its total net revenues by 2025.
The company has recently expanded its own sustainability metrics and goals with a particular focus on achieving its smoke-free vision.
Earlier this year, PMI released its 2021 Integrated Report, which outlines the company’s sustainability commitments. According to the report’s sustainability index, PMI is increasing the shipment ratio of its smoke-free products by 30 per cent by 2025.
It also aims to increase the number of markets it sells smoke-free products in. Its products are currently available in 70 markets worldwide. But by 2025, the company is hoping to be engaged in 100 markets.
This goes hand-in-hand with its ‘Our World is Not an Ashtray‘ initiative, which aims to raise awareness around cigarette littering. The initiative encourages proper waste disposal through education while also supporting litter clean-up activities.
As in previous years, in September 2022, PMI supported World Clean Up Day, the world’s largest annual litter clean-up event.
PMI teams, including PMMS employees, their families and friends participated in cleaning Dubai’s beaches.
In total, the volunteers were able to collect 12kg of waste and cigarette butts. The litter collected is being upcycled into construction materials, including beams, pipes and concrete.