Eco-wakening: what is it, and what does it mean for business?

What does the new era of sustainability mean for the future of businesses?
July 6, 2022
3 minutes

An eco-wakening is happening globally and business consumer demands are pushing for this sustainability switch. A new report commissioned by the WWF and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit has revealed that public awareness and concern about environmental concerns have increased by 16% during the last five years. The report is titled “An eco-wakening: Measuring global awareness, engagement and action for nature”.

A new era of sustainability has been building and the wave is finally here. Brands no longer need to simply exist, they need a reason to exist. Consumers are asking for that to be beyond simply making a profit. It is evident that consumers believe that it is not acceptable to ignore sustainability issues in the business world. There has been a 71% increase in online searches for sustainable goods over the last five years. This shows that consumers care and want to make an impact when they are shopping. Their purchasing habits have changed and businesses need to shift with them otherwise they risk being left behind.

What is eco-wakening?

The eco-awakening is the measuring of global awareness, engagement and action for the protection of nature. Through a detailed data analysis of Google search terms about biodiversity and nature loss, it has been discovered that the search for these topics has grown by 16% globally since 2016. In developing nations such as Asia and Latin America, this has seen the greatest increase to date. India has seen an increase of 190% for nature-related search terms.

What does eco-wakening mean for business?

Businesses need to focus on what consumers are demanding. The evidence has shown that consumers are waking up to what is happening in the world around us and they care about the state of the planet. Businesses need to show that they also care and are taking steps to address their customers' concerns. This might be through finding sustainable suppliers, switching products to more eco-friendly options and/or offsetting their emissions. There are countless ways in which a business can incorporate sustainability and utilize their own eco-awakening in their business strategies moving forward

Consumers believe that brands have the same responsibility for positive environmental change. This means that consumers believe that businesses must commit to protecting nature and not doing more harm. This is not only relevant for developed nations, consumers in developing economies show that consumers support sustainable businesses as well. The eco-awakening has seen a 24% increase in Indonesia and an incredible 120% rise in Ecuador.

For those business owners and consumers in developing nations, it is important to think about sustainability as unfortunately they will be impacted the most by the devastating effects of climate change. The global south will, unfortunately, bear the brunt of the effects despite the global north causing the majority of carbon emissions.

Nature is a business winner

It is clear that today’s consumers are thinking about sustainability and want to focus on this as part of their purchasing habits. There is an increase in younger audiences being more sustainable. In one particular survey, 75% of millennial respondents and 66% of all respondents stated that they consider sustainability when making a purchase. Social media continues to rise and with newer platforms like TikTok becoming media giants the voice of younger generations are amplified. In the UK, the market for eco-friendly and sustainable products was worth 41 billion pounds, this value has risen almost fourfold in 20 years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made consumers reflect on their priorities and think more deeply about environmental concerns. Going back to business as usual is not an option as the state of the planet requires us to make changes with the future of our world in our mind.