Key findings from our “Responsible Brands in Europe” study

May 12, 2021

RTL AdConnect’s Responsible Brands in Europe study, charting consumer behaviour across four European countries, shows most people expect broadcasters and brands to inform and advise them on sustainability and the climate crisis. 

Most (71%) of those surveyed said they realise that that the world is experiencing a climate crisis and, in the UK, France, Germany and Italy, around 80% of consumers stated they act more responsibly when it comes to protecting the environment.

The new report also showed that between 62% and 88% of respondents, depending on the country, expect the media to inform them more and advise them on these important subjects through their content.

The quantitative study surveyed people in UK, France, Germany and Italy, with a representative sample of 1000 individuals for each country, aged between 18 and 65. The report was created in partnership with M6 Publicité, the French advertising sales house of Groupe M6.

Consumers have high expectations in terms of communication on responsibility, according to the report, with over 8 in 10 Europeans wanting brands to communicate more about their values ​​and commitments. However, when Europeans were asked to name responsible brands, 40% were unable to name a single brand and 9 out of 10 think it’s difficult to determine if a brand truly acts responsibly.

Some brands did emerge as responsible however, with Tesco deemed most responsible by British respondents; Leclerc coming out top in France for its focus on the environment; Barilla in Italy and Adidas in Germany.

Comparing attitudes to the environment in different countries, there are deep disparities, with 36% of Italians saying they were unaware of the concept of a ‘carbon footprint’, compared to 5% of Britons. Meanwhile, 54% of British respondents are not aware of digital pollution, compared with 22% of French people.

Italians are the most mobilized on the environment and climate change while the British lag behind their European neighbours in that area in last position. On food, Italians are far ahead in embracing organic, local and seasonal products. Germans are big cyclists but tend to travel further from home to go on vacation, like Brits. In the hygiene / beauty sector, Italians are very fond of natural products and Germans opt for eco-friendly products, such as ecological nappies.

When it comes to media consumption, the report found that the majority of people expect to be informed on environmental matters primarily on television. In addition, people expect information on the products they buy as well as on the companies themselves. The majority of French people even want advertising to provide information on responsible actions.

Media groups and production companies are responding to the increased consumer demand for information and education regarding protecting the planet and are now integrating the topic into their programming and content development.

  • Germany, Bertelsmann regularly schedules a special week on a specific theme linked to sustainable development and the environment (soft mobility, food waste, etc.).
  • France, M6 has also done this with special editions of its flagship magazines. Environmental issues are also becoming recurring subjects in M6’s “Scènes de Ménages” (Household Scenes) and “Top Chef” programs.
  • UK, ITV has developed original formats such as the documentary “Prince William: A Planet For Us All” and a figure skating show on the melting ice. ITV has developed their own commercial sustainability brands, ITV Home Planet.

Stéphane Coruble : “We’re very happy to release our first survey ‘Responsible Brands in Europe’, with our French partner M6 Publicité. Our role at RTL AdConnect has always been to help international advertisers navigate local differences, nuances and understand trends across Europe. Therefore, it felt appropriate to expand the original French study to incorporate three other key markets: UK, Italy and Germany. As we found, brand ethics and sustainable practices, are increasingly important topics for consumers. This report helps identify and  understand the changing attitudes of consumers across Europe, and their expectations towards brands and the whole media and advertising industry.”

To receive the full report, please contact us directly at:

Methodology of the study

  • An international quantitative survey in 4 countries: France, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.
  • A representative sample of 1000 individuals for each country, aged between 18 to 65 y. (age, gender, social class, region, city size).
  • An online data collection between 16th October and 23rd October 2020.
  • A 15-minute questionnaire.
  • Covered sectors: food, hygiene and beauty, fashion, travel and tourism.

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