What does Better Futures reveal about the ‘S’ in ESG?

For 15 years, the Kantar Better Futures Report (delivered in partnership with SBC) has been the reference point for understanding New Zealand consumers’ perspectives on sustainability and the issues that are important to them.

In addition to environmental challenges, recent years’ reports reveal a growing focus among consumer groups on social sustainability, with issues like the cost of living, protection of children, violence, and access to healthcare and housing now dominating the list of top concerns – this mirrors the increasing effort SBC members and other businesses are putting towards their social sustainability agendas.

Off the back of this year’s results, Kantar and SBC will be delivering a new report called ‘Better Futures Thrive’, which will look at the various dimensions of Aotearoa New Zealand’s social sustainability landscape in greater detail, incorporating Kantar’s custom research and providing businesses with deeper consumer perspectives on these areas. Better Futures Thrive will build on SBC’s 2023 flagship report ‘Strengthening the ‘S’ in ESG for Aotearoa businesses’ in setting out a compelling opportunity for organisations to contribute to a fairer New Zealand.

In the meantime, here are some of the findings from Better Futures 2024 that signal a compelling value proposition for delivering positive social impact and reflect the need to dig deeper to understand the impact of these issues on commercial success.  

1. Social sustainability impacts purchase decisions.

We know that 49% of Kiwi consumers look for ethical companies when choosing products and services to buy, and 42% look for ethical companies when investing. This refers specifically to customers who are proactively researching products and services – it doesn’t include the proportion of consumers who also respond in the moment to an ethical offer on shelf, or at point of sale.

Within the more specific domain of diversity and inclusion, these issues impact the life decisions (including their purchased brands) of 19% of New Zealanders. These numbers increase to 32% of the LGBTQIA+ community, and 34% of customers identifying as having high sustainable values and action.

2. Social sustainability touches many New Zealanders in their daily lives.

42% of Kiwi consumers feel personally impacted by issues relating to diversity, equity and inclusion, and this increases to 52% among Māori and Pasifika, 62% among Asians, and 57% among the LGBTQ+ community.

3. Social sustainability is seen as an ethical responsibility for business.

Globally, 73% of consumers believe that businesses have a responsibility to make society fairer.

In New Zealand, 42% of Kiwi consumers feel it is business’ responsibility to address community and social challenges including inequality, discrimination and resilience – however, these same consumers perceive a measurable gap in business delivery, with only 22% feeling that businesses are actually meeting their responsibilities.

More pointedly, when asked to rate the performance from within a selection of 20 major New Zealand corporates, many consumers are unsure or disagree that any NZ corporate:

  • Gives back and supports where it matters (38% unsure/disagree)
  • Treats their employees fairly and with respect (42% unsure/disagree)
  • Represents people similar to me or my community (41% unsure/disagree)

It is the intention of the Better Futures Thrive report to shed light on these topics in more detail, to understand the varying roles that Kiwi businesses play as employers, buyers and sellers of goods and services, community-builders and branded communicators, and to inform a way forward for businesses to improve their delivery against these expectations.

Stay tuned for more information about the report and launch event coming soon.

10 Jul, 2024

Related Posts