Chinese shoppers go green

21 October 2011

BEIJING: An increasing number of Chinese consumers are interested in the environmental credentials of brands, new research has found.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the industry body, surveyed 2,400 adults in six cities: Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang and Wuhan.

Overall, 86% of participants agreed they had become more conscious about environmental issues and actions in the last few years, and a majority thought "going green" was a trend worth following.

Exactly 75% of the panel had used eco-friendly products in the past, rising to 84% in Guangzhou and 79% in Beijing.

On average, shoppers would pay a 20% premium for items demonstrably focusing on matters like sustainability, but 66% of the sample believed they were too expensive at present. 56% also expressed doubts about certification standards.

Two-thirds of individuals polled regarded "buying green" as being a "fashionable way to shop", a total reaching 70% among respondents in Shanghai.

Another 78% of contributors said goods with strong ecological values provided personal benefits. For example, 75% of people that bought these products did so for health or lifestyle-related reasons.

Within the group of people purchasing green goods, 98% had opted for food and beverage brands with an environmentally-led positioning. Energy-saving electronics scored 90% here, while apparel logged 57% and personal care lines posted 53%.

Elsewhere, 75% of parents "made an effort" to buy eco-friendly products for their children. Typically, however, the number of such items bought decreased as children got older.

Some 300 people interviewed had previously lived in a foreign country. 58% of this group stated environmental concerns impacted their purchase decisions, and 44% looked for appropriate products when in stores.

More than half of the same audience did not think eco-friendly offerings were over-priced. On average, repatriated Chinese consumers would be willing to meet a 28% price premium for such lines.

Data sourced from Hong Kong Trade Development Council; additional content by Warc staff