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Kantar’s Sustainable Sector Index study finds concerns over greenwashing are rife across all business sectors, globally

Brands across sectors missing out on the green opportunity

London, 5 October 2023: Kantar, the world’s leading marketing insights and analytics company, today releases Sustainability Sector Index 2023, the company’s flagship global study on consumers’ sustainability concerns and behaviours. The research reveals that worries about greenwashing are universally high – over half of respondents believe brands across all industries are misleading when reporting their sustainability actions, even “born-good” sectors, like electric vehicles or alternative meat products.

Greenwashing Top 5 % Greenwashing Bottom 5 %
Social media 60% In-home entertainment 48%
Meat or meat products 58% Coffee, tea 47%
Clothing, footwear 57% Beer, wine, alcoholic beverages 46%
Motor vehicles 57% Baby hygiene products 46%
Super/hypermarkets 56% Pet food 42%

The worst offenders, according to consumers, are social media (60%), meat and meat products (58%) and clothing and footwear (57%). While pet food and baby hygiene products sit at the bottom of the table for greenwashing concerns, a significant proportion of consumers – more than 4 in 10 – believe that brands in those sectors share false or inaccurate information regarding their sustainability efforts.

Luxury goods industry ranks alongside the oil & gas industry on sustainability action

Based on 26,000 interviews worldwide, and in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the report ranks 42 sectors on their sustainability actions. Now in its third edition, the study compares consumers’ sustainability perceptions of different sectors for the first time. Surprisingly, the data shows consumers see the luxury sector as similar to the oil and gas industry in terms of driving progress on social and environmental issues, though not to the same extent as cigarettes or vaping. All four sectors sitting at the bottom of the league table are ripe for radical innovation to survive.

Sustainability Sector Index – Top 5 Index v Average Sustainability Sector Index – Bottom 5 Index v Average
Fresh Fruit, vegetables 100 Beer, wine, alcoholic beverages 7
Electric / Hybrid vehicles 91 Oil and gas -15
Non-dairy alternatives 81 Luxury products -38
Meat alternative protein products 76 Vaping, electronic cigarettes, tobacco heaters -95
Milk or dairy products 70 Cigarettes, tobacco for roll, Make your own -100


Walking the talk

According to the analysis, there continues to be dissonance between consumers’ intentions and behaviours towards sustainability – the ‘value action gap’. The most considerable discrepancy exists for the oil and gas industry (66%) and clothing and footwear (63%). The sectors faring the best in this area include In-Home Entertainment (48%) and Electric Vehicles (50%).

Value-action Gap – Top 5 % Value-action Gap – Bottom 5 %
Oil and gas 66% Financial services, banking, insurance 52%
Clothing, footwear 63% Online shopping sites 52%
Packaged biscuits, chips, snacks 62% Telecom service providers 51%
Travel, Hospitality 62% Electric / Hybrid vehicles 50%
Cleaning, home care products 62% In-home entertainment 48%


Karine Trinquetel, Global Head of Offer, Sustainable Transformation Practice, Kantar, added: “Half of global consumers believe brands across all sectors are greenwashing their activities, putting customers’ trust at risk through miscommunication and misguided strategies. Brands need a nuanced understanding of the opportunities to cut through and drive meaningful change. Acting with bravery and boldness to lead the way in sustainability has never been a more critical imperative, regardless of your sector”.

Download a copy of Sustainability Sector Index 2023 report and register to watch the webinar “Sustainability Sector Index 2023: Establish your brand leadership” on demand at


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