The study, commissioned by Dove and Hellmann’s, found creators had the biggest impact on consumers’ behavior — more than news, government PSAs or scientific reports.

Unilever study shows creators influence sustainable choices

Creators are effective at influencing consumers to make sustainable lifestyle choices, according to a new study from FMCG giant Unilever.

The consumer goods company partnered with U.K.-based Behavioral Insights Team to create a simulated social platform on which they monitored how 6,000 U.K., U.S. and Canadian consumers reacted to various forms of content from ten creators.

The study, commissioned by Unilever brands Dove and Hellmann’s, found that:

  • Creators had the biggest impact on green choices for 78% of participants, followed by documentaries, news articles, science reports and government campaigns.
  • 83% of participants said they believed TikTok and Instagram are good places to get sustainability advice.
  • Social media had the highest influence in the U.S. out of all three regions.

Within the study, both pragmatic content that relied on data and statistics and optimistic content that focused on climate solutions and their benefits to individuals were presented to consumers. It found that both forms of content were almost equally effective at pushing consumers to take up sustainable behavior such as creating new meals with leftovers and avoiding plastic packaging. Branded and unbranded content also performed similarly.

In a press release, Unilever said it conducted the study to see how brands can create content that encourages sustainable behavior.

It also cited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2022 report, which shows that consumer behavior can reduce demand-side carbon emissions by up to 5%. However, Unilever went on to acknowledge that the onus to find climate solutions isn’t on individuals. Instead, the IPCC points to a need to end projects for fossil fuel companies — an industry that PR and advertising have been accused of protecting.

At PRWeek’s Corporate and Public Affairs Summit in late February, Paul Matthews, head of comms and corporate affairs at Unilever, said the company is working to grow from past missteps by talking about sustainability initiatives without isolating brand purpose from business performance.

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