Chinese shoppers mixed on green goods

10 December 2012

BEIJING: A majority of urban shoppers in China are unfamiliar with green brands and products, but confidence in these offerings is higher than in Canada or the US, a survey has discovered.

DuPont, the chemicals firm, polled 1,000 people in ten cities, and found 47% were "not very familiar" with eco-friendly goods in categories like clothing, cleaning, personal hygiene, cosmetics and detergent.

Another 38% claimed to be "somewhat familiar" with such lines, measured against 10% possessing no knowledge whatsoever and 5% believing they were especially well-informed in this area.

Fully 88% of people that were extremely familiar with green products also proved reassured about the accuracy of their environmental promises, including 46% assuming a "very confident" opinion here.

These scores fell to 77% and 20% in turn among the group that had a passing knowledge of eco-friendly brands, and contracted to 61% and 7% where contributors were "not very familiar" with them.

Further, a 70% majority of the Chinese sample agreed brands with a sustainable positioning did help the planet, a total hitting 65% in similar research in Canada and 60% for the US.

Upon discussing the characteristics of green goods, some 84% of Chinese shoppers cited using recycled and renewable materials, while 76% pointed to consuming less energy in production and at home.

An additional 73% referenced reduced water usage in the manufacturing process, just behind the 74% flagging up the need to use less water at home.

"The survey demonstrates a growing awareness and desire among urban Chinese consumers for green products that offer sustainability benefits," said Jeremy Xu, vice president, global sales and applications, at DuPont Industrial Biosciences.

The study argued the growth of China's middle class from 300m to 800m by 2025 demanded a green revolution, especially given resource limits and the government's plans to cut carbon and energy use.

DuPont also surveyed many of its local corporate customers, and discovered 76% derived a "high" or "moderate" value for items with environmental benefits, up from 57% in 2011, and expected to reach 86% in 2021.

Using safer materials was seen as a benefit for 76% of this panel, beating reduced pollution on 69%, lower energy usage on 67%, protecting water quality on 61% and cutting production waste on 60%.

Data sourced from DuPont; additional content by Warc staff