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Unilever reveals that content creators influence sustainable choices

Sophie Smith
13 March 2023

Unilever has partnered with a number of eco-conscious influencers and behavioural scientists to examine the role which influencer content has on sustainable choices. 

To put activist influencer social media content to the test, the group used a simulated social platform that showed people various styles of content, and measured the resulting behaviour change of 6,000 UK, US, and Canadian consumers.

Dove and Hellmann’s, two of Unilever’s brands, commissioned the content to encourage the "two most impactful behaviours on an individual’s carbon footprint" - using less plastic and wasting less food.

The content tested was created to be either:

  • Pragmatic – "characterised by an emphasis on the scale of the problem behaviour, expansive and far-away consequences, and a heavy use of data and statistics".
  • Optimistic – "characterised by practical demonstrations of how to live sustainably, emphasis on the benefits to the individual, and a surprising, often humorous tone".

The results found that both styles of content were effective in encouraging people to adopt sustainable behaviours, including saving and reusing plastic, buying refillable products, and freezing and reusing leftovers.

When measuring actual behaviour change, the study revealed that people value both facts and practical advice. 69% of those who watched the ‘pragmatic’ content went on to try something new to reduce their plastic or food waste. 61% of those who watched the ‘optimistic’ content also reported action.

In addition, 83% of people agreed that TikTok and Instagram are helpful places to seek out sustainability advice. This jumped to 86% for participants aged 18-34, highlighting the "greater importance that future generations are placing on living sustainably".

The results also emphasised that 77% of people support creators encouraging their audience to behave in an environmentally friendly way and 72% support them selling products or services focused on sustainability.

Conny Braams, Chief Digital & Commercial Officer at Unilever, said: "Sustainability is integrated into everything we do at Unilever, and much of our sustainability actions are told by our brands and the content creators we choose to partner with.

"With a team of experts across marketing, sustainability, communications and digital, our ambition is to continue to learn and improve the sustainability content produced by our brands and support the creators we work with. Together, we are learning what is all likes and no action versus content that can help make sustainable choices simple and preferred."

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