More than a third of Brits are buying from companies with strong environmental credentials as priorities shift during the pandemic, new research shows.

And it seems that consumers are most concerned about sustainability when it comes to the food and drink sector, with one in three stating that a company’s environmental focus is the biggest influencer in their purchasing decisions.

A further four in five (80%) said they are planning to purchase goods and services from businesses they know have made a concerted effort to be environmentally friendly.

The research, which was commissioned by E.ON for its Renewable Returns report, also quizzed business owners on their thoughts about ‘going green’.

Three quarters (78%) of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the sector believe they would increase their appeal if they improved their environment credentials. Additionally, over three quarters (79%) said that improving their sustainability credentials is a top priority over the next 12 months. However, two thirds (66%) felt there wasn’t enough guidance on how to do so.

In other findings:

  • 72% said they pay attention to whether a business acts in a climate-friendly way
  • 65% feel it’s important that the products or services they buy do not harm the environment
  • More than a third (34%) of people have already knowingly paid more for ‘green’ products since the pandemic struck
  • More than half (51%) think the environmental credentials of a product or service are now just as important as the price they pay for it
  • Over three quarters (78%) said they were more likely to recommend a business if they knew it made a sustained effort to be environmentally friendly
  • Almost half (48%) of consumers find that brands’ environmental credentials are not easy to come across

“The coronavirus pandemic has heightened people’s concerns around the climate crisis and this has brought the environmental footprint of the products and services we buy into sharp focus,” says Michael Lewis, CEO of E.ON UK. “It is clear from our research that there is real opportunity for small businesses in the food and drinks industry in particular to embrace the green economic recovery and lead the charge in providing customers with sustainable products.”