Better Futures 2020

Kiwi youth feeling the heat

New research confirms Kiwi youth are socially aware and concerned about the protection of the environment they are living in.

Colmar Brunton’s Better Futures report released today in conjunction with the Sustainable Business Council surveyed 1500 New Zealanders, including the views of 13-17 year-olds for the first time.

It revealed that youth are most mindful of the effects of suicide on their peers, highlighting it as their biggest concern along with plastic waste and pollution of water.

Head of Colmar Brunton Sarah Bolger says climate change, sustainability and waste remain key concerns for New Zealanders. Almost half (46%) of New Zealanders say they want the government to lead the way on the issue of climate change. Of that group, 76% say environmental policies influence how they vote.

76% of those surveyed say they don’t think business is doing enough to reduce its environmental impact and 26% of New Zealanders say businesses should lead the way on climate change.

“People want government and business be part of the solution. Strong leadership is likely to spur them into increasing their individual action,” Bolger says.

Waste remains an issue

The latest research also highlights some interesting perceptions around waste.

The government’s ban on single-use plastic bags was big news last year, but it’s clear the ban was not a silver bullet, with 69% saying they are still highly concerned about the build-up of plastic in the environment.

Bolger says, “There has been broader awakening on waste and household shoppers are becoming more astute. Consumers are aware that waste doesn’t just refer to plastic. They are starting to reuse and recycle more than they used to. They want brands to care about waste, pollution, recycling and plastic build-up. They also want clearer guidelines on labelling for what to do with packaging.”

People are taking action with the environment in mind but it’s still not easy to be environmentally friendly.

Opportunity for business

Looking to the future, 72% of youth say it’s important their future employer is socially and environmentally responsible, indicating workplaces with these values are more likely to attract talent.

Bolger says there is a shift towards plant-based eating with almost half (49%) of Kiwis recognising a change in diet can impact the environment.

“This shift in attitude means 15% of Kiwis are now always or mostly eating plant-based meals. That’s a 50% increase on a year ago [2019:10%].”

Bolger says there are big opportunities for businesses and brands that listen to consumer needs, communicate about sustainable benefits to their consumers and provide innovative solutions.

“With 48% of Kiwis saying they have deliberately switched to a brand that is more sustainable, there is an opportunity to engage with the public about their growing concern. There is an imperative for organisations and businesses to future-proof themselves in a rapidly changing landscape.”

SBC executive director Mike Burrell says there is room for business to be proactive on sustainability.

“Over 100 business leaders have signed on to the Climate Leaders Coalition and there are over 100 in our membership, representing a strong shift towards sustainability.

“Companies that have sustainability embedded in their strategy are starting to see their bottom line improve.”


Chief Client Officer
[email protected]

View the Report

Our 2020 Better Futures Report provides key insights into consumer perspectives on sustainability and the social and environmental issues that are important to Kiwis.

Insight and thinking

Read our latest articles and reports, with expert perspective, proprietary data, and thought-provoking insights.