Intentions do not always become actions when it comes to sustainability, new research says


PEOPLE place high value on the wellness of themselves, their family and the Earth, but intention does not always necessarily translate into action according to Visual GPS, new research by Getty Images.

This presents a unique opportunity for brands to engage and assist consumers in bridging the gap between intention and action, the research finds.

Built on 25 years of experience, Visual GPS looks at the key Forces that drive consumer engagement and purchasing behaviour across geographies, generations, gender and employment, delivering unrivalled insight into what today’s consumers care about so brands can better choose visuals that will resonate with them.

This first-of-its-kind global research effort leverages Getty Images’ proprietary sales and search data, from over one billion searches annually, as well as insights from its Creative Insights team and a wide-ranging consumer survey which was completed in conjunction with global market research firm YouGov.

“We live in an increasingly visual world. Having the perfect image, video, or illustration can mean the difference between connecting with your audience or simply being bypassed,” said Ken Mainardis, Senior Vice President, Content, Getty Images. “It can be difficult to choose visual content that will resonate with your target consumer, unless you understand what’s important to your customers and what drives their decision making – this is the problem Visual GPS seeks to solve.”

Following the launch of the initial report, Visual GPS will deliver fresh insights throughout 2020 and beyond, through reports, articles, videos, social content and custom opportunities.

Initial findings of Visual GPS surface several pressing issues, most notably highlighting the disconnect between intention and action around sustainability.

Of the over 10,000 people surveyed 92% of respondents said they believe the way we treat our planet now will have a large impact on the future and yet 48% also say that although they know they should care more about the environment through their purchasing habits, convenience takes priority.

“Our research shows us there is an opportunity for companies and brands to help consumers bridge the gap between their attitudes and their actions,” said Dr. Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights, Getty Images.

“Visual GPS shows us that sustainability is a universal concern across generations, gender and regions—the potential for positive action is huge but consumers won’t engage if brands are not speaking to these issues in authentic visual terms.”

Visual GPS explores how consumers are influenced by four key “Forces”—Technology, Sustainability, Realness and Wellness—and what that means in terms of their decision making.

The Getty Images Creative Insights team—comprised of artists, curators, archivists, futurists and art directors—initially identified these key Forces through a combination of interviews, observations and visual analysis, before embarking on a custom study surveying more than 10,000 people in 13 languages across 26 countries, to provide further context around the concept of visual representation.

Each of the Forces reveal important findings around what concerns consumers and how brands and businesses can respond.

“We’ve found evidentiary proof that sustainability is important to consumers of all ages across geographies and cultures, but sustainability issues collide with purchases that bring enormous pleasure and help improve wellbeing,” Dr. Swift said.

“Our search data has seen huge increases in interest for reusable coffee cups, straws, water bottles, etc. This has led to the need to rethink what lifestyle and business visual content looks like. Often bottles, cups, and straws are small elements of a larger scene, but it’s important to rethink what’s in the image or video and whether it meets the modern sustainable standards of consumers.”

Key findings included:

— A “consumption conundrum” of sorts.  Of those surveyed 81% see themselves as eco-friendly but only 50% say they only buy products from brands that try to be eco-friendly.

— Consumers who are passionate* about sustainability are likely to pay 10-15% more for products or services from companies that:

  • Use sustainable practices
  • Are aligned with their values
  • Have transparent business practices
  • Care about the wellbeing, safety, and security of customers.