Monday 9 November 2020 11:27 am EY Talk

TMT providers can unlock customer value through credible sustainability actions

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EY’s Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications

The environmental and sustainability credentials of companies across all sectors are becoming increasingly important to discerning consumers, and this is none more apparent than in the TMT sector.  

EY’s survey which canvassed the views of 2,000 consumers in the UK, reveals that over half (56%) of UK consumers are willing to pay slightly more for environmentally sustainable products and services. While almost half (45%) of consumers would be happy to accept slightly less quality of services where sustainability credentials are strong, highlighting a willingness to compromise for a more sustainable option.

The survey also reveals that consumers have become more alert to unethical and unsustainable practices, showing a clear desire to act more responsibly to benefit future generations. This growing awareness is influencing their loyalty to brands; for example, almost two-thirds (63%) of consumers surveyed would switch service providers or suppliers if they were using a significant amount of single-use plastic.

Read more: Coronavirus has increased investors’ appetite for sustainable strategies

The survey clearly demonstrates that sustainability is resonating strongly with the consumers, influencing how they view brands, and is impacting their attitudes towards how they buy products and services. TMT providers have a real opportunity to unlock more customer value and differentiate their offering by putting sustainability at the heart of their approach. This will be crucial in maintaining relevance and reaching out to an ethically conscious customer segment.

Immediate delivery of results versus long-term ambitious sustainability goals

What is also interesting is that four-fifths of UK consumers surveyed (80%) believe TMT companies should act now to improve sustainability rather than setting long-term targets, with almost a third (32%) more likely to trust companies’ short-term sustainability goals. However, also crucial to this is a clear and convincing narrative around environmental and ethical objectives to counter disbelief and scepticism that exists among consumers; 71% of consumers think companies only promote sustainability as a PR exercise to ‘look good’ while 69% are sceptical of whether sustainability and ethnical sourcing claims by companies are true.

Transparency and credibility

To offset this negative sentiment, companies can be transparent and honest with their sustainability credentials. There is clear appetite from consumers to have access to this information to empower them to make better spending decisions – almost two-thirds (65%) of households believe company sustainability credentials should be available and 70% of consumers believe price comparison sites should include sustainability criteria to inform their choices.

Read more: Building business resilience for a better future

The pandemic has changed consumer spending habits and behaviours. Coupled with calls for a green recovery, there is a new urgency to the sustainability agenda and, as our research shows, is impacting how consumers view TMT service providers.

Read more: COVID-19 has changed investors’ priorities but UK attractiveness remains resilient

Providers need to harness this sentiment and take action to underline the sincerity of their sustainability agenda. Consumer-friendly messaging and more readily available information will go a long way to achieving this. Ultimately, a new type of customer dialogue is essential.

Looking ahead

To succeed in a market where sustainability is proving increasing critical to customer behaviour, TMT providers need to embed clear and meaningful sustainability promises into their business model. Long-term targets that are often decades away can, in some cases, be difficult to comprehend and may disengage consumers. Immediate action combined with simple messaging that resonates with the language of your customers will be incredibly impactful in strengthening customer loyalty.

Read more: How COVID-19 is defining business purpose

TMT providers are in a unique position as engines of cross-sector transformation, to drive sustainable and ethical practices, not just for customers but also for wider society.

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