Imogen Watson
Sep 14, 2023

Fear of greenwashing label stops influencers discussing sustainability, study finds

Unilever has formed a coalition to help content creators encourage consumers to make more sustainable choices.

Activist group Glimpse recently targeted influencers guilty of greenwashing
Activist group Glimpse recently targeted influencers guilty of greenwashing
Three-quarters (76%) of social media content creators want to talk more about sustainability but most (84%) experience at least one barrier that holds them back, according to “first of its kind” research conducted by Unilever. 
Fear of greenwashing accusations was identified as the biggest barrier, with over a third (38%) of respondents admitting it holds them back. The study polled 232 content creators across YouTube, TikTok and Instagram in the UK, US, Brazil and the Philippines. 
Other barriers include difficulties transitioning from specialised content to sustainability-focused content, confusion over what is or isn’t sustainable, and not feeling knowledgeable about key sustainability issues. A fifth (21%) of respondents identified these issues. 
Concern about being cancelled was cited as a problem by 18% of respondents.   
The research found almost two-thirds (63%) of content creators are creating more sustainability content than they were last year, and three-quarters (76%) want to create even more in the future.  
To tackle the issues raised, Unilever has brought together a coalition of partners and sustainability non-profit organisations – Count Us In, the United Nations Development Programme, Rare and Futerra Solutions Union – alongside a new Creator Council, made up of social media content creators across travel, beauty and lifestyle.
Unilever claims the coalition will work to co-create an "industry-wide digital solution that will bring together social media content creators, non-profits and brands to accelerate accurate and effective sustainability content, built upon science and behaviour change theory to encourage more sustainable behaviours".
Unilever is calling on other brands, agencies and technology companies to help influencers encourage sustainable choices among consumers through social media content. 
Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s chief sustainability officer, said: “We know that sustainability content on social media has the potential to drive more sustainable behaviours, with over three-quarters of consumers claiming influencers have the biggest impact on their green choices today.”   
Campaign UK

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