What’s your customer’s ESG mindset and why does it matter?

November 26, 2021
Pic Credit: Unsplash

Earlier this month, representatives from over 200 countries met at COP26 to sign the Glasgow Climate Pact. This document requires in-depth reporting on climate action progress before COP27, due to take place in 2022.

Despite a “disappointing” lack of action during the most recent summit, this pledge gives an insight into the level of climate action required by businesses and society over the next 12 months, as we work towards limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

The prevailing feeling of the event and subsequent analysis is that acceleration is necessary to keep the goal alive, with climate financing being a key focus for the year ahead. Find out more about the agenda at COP26 in this informative TED Talk.

With more people making buying, investing and employment decisions based on an organisation’s Environmental, Social and corporate Governance (ESG) strategy, there has never been a more pertinent time to review and revitalise your business’s ESG comms plan. But how do you ensure your message gets through? Understanding these common people and planet mindsets might be the answer…

What is a ‘people and planet mindset’?

For businesses and communications professionals, it is an increasing challenge to understand the mindset of our customers. A mindset is invisible, yet it shapes our behaviour. You may only see someone’s true mindset during an action but when you do, it is crucial to take note of it.

When launching your ESG comms strategy, you need to be aware of your audience’s mindset to tailor the right messages for maximum impact and avoid alienating customers. Check out this previous blog for more information on how climate change is affecting wellbeing, and ways to avoid overwhelming your customers with communication.

So how do you know which mindset your target audience has adopted? This can be achieved through creating personas based on focus groups, social listening or data analysis which will enable you to spot behavioural patterns.

At Communique we often identify four main mindsets which I categorise using the mnemonic PICE. This stands for:





It’s important to note that we can have a combination of two mindsets from this list depending on the situation presented. In this article, discover what lies behind this mental framework and how to engage audiences from each segment.

The pragmatic mindset

People who have the pragmatic mindset tend not to focus on a reward. Instead, they focus on the threats that looms around your people and planet initiatives, and therefore require precise communications to avoid overwhelm and confusion.

They are not negative people by nature, but they will often focus on what could go wrong and how the problem should be solved.

So, how should you approach an audience with this mindset? It would be best to engage them when you need to get honest feedback on an initiative, to help you understand any risks you may face when launching your ESG comms strategy and how can they be mitigated.

Is this your audience? The common traits associated with this mindset are:

  • Cautious
  • Well planned
  • Wise
  • Mindful
  • Hesitant

The involved mindset

People who have the involved mindset tend to be easily excitable. They are deeply passionate about people and the planet but can struggle to make the right decision under pressure, as they are led by their emotions rather than reason. This means that they may say one thing and then do another, a common trend when it comes to environmentally conscious behaviours.

If your audience has this mindset, they would be best engaged when you launch a new initiative, particularly if it is an element of your ESG comms plan that speaks to their emotions and social impact.

The traits we most often see associated with this mindset are:

  • Composed
  • Focused
  • Level-Headed
  • Resourceful

The calm mindset

Audiences with a calm mindset tend to have low sensitivity to both threats and rewards. Therefore, they often work best when under pressure – an asset when it comes to people and planet action. They may respond well when communicated with in a way that complements their rational nature and requires them to take action.

If you’re working with an audience who have this mindset, it is best to engage them with co-creation. For example, work with them to map out the solutions needed to accelerate your people and planet initiatives.

Some of the key traits associated with this mindset are:

  • Definite
  • Even tempered
  • Steady
  • considered

The enthusiastic mindset

People who adopt the enthusiastic mindset see opportunities but may not always notice the potential risks involved. As such, they are forever positive and always see the cup half full but may lack the logic and reasoning of audiences with a calm or pragmatic mindset.

This audience is best engaged when you have a new idea you wish to test. Utilise their network and influence to gain traction in areas where you may face adversity.

The traits we find to be associated with this mindset are:

  • Dynamic
  • Irrational
  • Excitable
  • Well-networked
  • High levels of emotional intelligence

By understanding your audience’s mindset, you can streamline your ESG comms strategy to suit a wider variety of stakeholder types. Whether you’re engaging a pragmatic internal stakeholder or an enthusiastic customer, taking the time to identify and utilise their mindset will enable you to create people and planet communications with maximum impact.

Want to take your ESG comms strategy to the next level? We can help. Get in touch with Communique today to access our exclusive team of global experts who will work with you to develop and promote full ESG integration for your organisation.

This article has been inspired by a workshop delivered by "Sustainable Pathways"


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