According to Incite, a market research group based in Britain, consumers are divided over the definition of sustainability. Some 44% of survey respondents associate it with the environment, while another 44% believe it's a concept dealing with financial security. The remaining 12% were unable to define what the term means.

Chris Wood, an executive with Incite, told British media and advertising magazine Marketing Week that the differing interpretation of sustainability has implications for brands and their communications.

“Sustainability in the media is read in different ways," says Wood. "In the consumer world, it’s not a word that’s used everyday and isn’t very clear. It demonstrates that businesses should be playing on their robustness and strength to drive confidence in their brand.”

Incite's study also revealed that consumers are still very much on the lookout for value and customer service when making purchase decisions; sustainability ranked only fifth out of six compelling factors.