There is a big opportunity for brands to become leaders in the sustainability space, according to a new study released by impact and communications agencies, Republic of Everyone and The Bravery with independent research firm, Mobium Group.

The ‘Who Do you Believe?’ report reveals the top performers across grocery, apparel, food and alcohol sectors when it comes to consumer beliefs and actions they want to see in businesses proclaiming to champion people and the planet.

Grocery was by far the easiest sector for Australians to recall a brand they thought were performing well with their impact initiatives with the most-mentioned brand being Woolworths. Being the first to remove plastic bags and single-use plastics was the most significant action taken by Woolworths to solidify its high ranking, closely followed by supporting farmers, donating food, and installing solar on all stores.

Next on the list was Coles with consumers referencing the supermarket’s commitment to renewable energy and climate action. Other initiatives highlighted included looking to be 100% carbon neutral, green electricity and responsible packaging, converting all stores to solar power, soft plastic recycling and switching materials to be recyclable.

ALDI also featured prominently with its solar-powered stores and offices that solidified them as a spot at the top. Aiming to be carbon neutral was also recalled by consumers as a credible sustainability action.

In the apparel category, only 16% of survey respondents were able to specifically name a brand. Nike was the top performer with its circular economy efforts and education on how to recycle correctly, as well as its reusable product line.

Cotton On was the top performing Australian-owned company with respondents identifying their in-store charity drives as the main reason for their nomination. Other listed successes included their in-store charity items, giving money to good causes, commitment to going carbon neutral and the manufacturing of sustainable clothing.

The ‘Who Do you Believe?’ report shows while Australians care about social and environmental issues, they don’t believe brands are doing enough, according to Republic of Everyone founder, Ben Peacock.

“They want action from businesses and brands and for them to put their money where their mouth is. But right now, three in four Australians can’t name a single brand they feel is leading in sustainability. This leaves the door wide open for companies to think big, do more and leap out as leaders,” he said.

The Bravery founder, Claire Maloney said, “The findings show a healthy skepticism from Australians on impact initiatives. This is somewhat understandable given the expectation businesses will manage their commercial interests first. But could also be linked to the rise of perceived greenwashing.

“But there are many businesses out there delivering tremendous gains for the environment and community, and it was encouraging in the research to see a sophisticated, high-level of understanding from Australians on what they thought ‘good’ action looked like.”