iStock research reveals UK public choose small brands over global to show support for environment

In the wake of COP26 in Glasgow, iStock, a leader in affordable visual communications for the creative, entrepreneurial and SMB communities, has released research revealing that supporting the environment and supporting the local economy goes hand in hand for many UK consumers. The findings are reported within research for iStock’s creative insights platform Visual GPS, completed in conjunction with global market research firm MarketCast. 

Almost a quarter of British consumers (23%) have shopped with smaller, local companies and brands over global ones, as a way to show support and commitment to protecting the planet and creating a sustainable environment. The research also reveals:  

  • 1 in 10 consumers (10%) say they shop with smaller businesses because they are more likely to engage in sustainable manufacturing processes   
  • 14% say they choose companies and brands based on their support of protecting the environment and use of sustainable practices  
  • 71% believe businesses and corporations share some responsibility for the environment and sustainability.   

The research also reveals that on average more than half of British consumers (55%) say they only buy from brands that make an effort to be eco-friendly. This number rises significantly to 70% for the Generation Z age group, and 68% for Millennials, whilst it reduces to 42% for Boomers, demonstrating that younger consumers in the UK put an increased emphasis on living and shopping sustainably.  

What we know coming out of COP26 is that sustainability is not just an enterprise business issue –our research shows the UK public expect to see businesses of all sizes taking responsibility,” said Dr Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights at iStock. “Our Visual GPS research also shows that among the actions people are taking to reduce their own carbon footprint, doing business with their local small businesses is one area they believe they can make a positive impact – this represents an opportunity for small businesses in the UK to show their customer how they are committed to sustainability and how they can support their customer be more sustainable via their products and services.” 

To support businesses, communicate around sustainability across their marketing channels, iStock’s visual experts have shared three takeaways to keep in mind: 

Make it personal – 60% of UK people say that they take steps to reduce their carbon footprint every day. Show how your business and services can support them in their mission by using visuals in your marketing which show the small steps they can take – whether that be showing reusable items, sustainable travel (bikes or e-scooters) or the repair and reuse of clothing and other items. 

Sustainability is for everyone – Climate change affects everyone, in fact most Brits (92%) are taking some sort of action to support sustainability. All types of people and communities participate in sustainable solutions so intentionally choose images, video and illustration which show people from different ages, gender and ethnic backgrounds.  

Visualise new sustainable concepts – Familiar images of industrial chimney stacks or the lone polar bear can be popular symbols for signifying climate change, but sustainability is now about what’s happening in the community. Try searching for concepts such as ‘reusable’ or ‘sustainable business’ to remain relevant. 

See here for some visual inspiration for representing sustainability or to explore sustainability-inspired imagery and video, visit  

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