Consumer views mixed on green brands

30 August 2011

NEW YORK: Consumers around the world hold mixed opinions regarding climate change and their willingness to pay a premium for products with strong eco-friendly credentials, a study has found.

Nielsen, the research firm, polled 25,000 web users in 51 countries, 69% of which said they were "concerned" about climate change and global warming, up from 66% in 2009, but down from 72% during 2007.

In all, 83% of the panel agreed companies should pursue sustainability initiatives, although just 22% of people surveyed were prepared to pay more for products boasting impressive attributes in this area.

A third of the sample in the Middle East and Africa would meet a premium for such goods, measured against 12% of their counterparts in North America.

By contrast, 48% of North Americans typically acquired the cheapest offerings available, standing at 36% in the Middle East and Africa, 35% in Europe, 33% in Asia Pacific and 27% in Latin America.

In rating specific CSR schemes undertaken by companies, 83% of respondents suggested using recycled packaging and making energy efficient products was beneficial for the environment.

Another 64% held similar views of organic goods, hitting 80% in Latin America, 72% regarding Asia Pacific, 58% discussing Europe, 57% in the Middle East and Africa and only 49% in North America.

Local products registered 59% on this metric, reaching 65% in North America, while Fairtrade lines recorded 51%, and not conducting tests on animals logged 44%.

Contributors in Thailand, Mexico and Portugal showed the most interest in climate change, as each country returned scores of 93%, but the US posted 48% after tumbling 14 percentage points on 2007.

Todd Hale, SVP, consumer and shopper insights, at Nielsen US, said: "With financial concerns still on the minds of many Americans, they're indicating less and less concern about climate change and other environmental issues."

Participants in China generated 64% on this metric in 2011, decreasing from 77% in 2009, and 86% of Indians were anxious about the same matter, climbing from 85% two years ago.

European totals here fell by ten points to 68%, Asia Pacific was off by three points to 72%, North America saw a two point dip to 50%, Latin America improved by five points to 90% and the Middle East witnessed an 11-point lift to 80%.

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff