Green brands find favour with consumers

28 May 2010

LONDON: Growing numbers of shoppers around the world are placing an emphasis on corporate social responsibility and the green credentials of the brands they buy, a new study has found.

Synovate, the research firm, and Deutsche Welle, the media group, surveyed consumers in a variety of major markets in order to establish their views relating to climate change.

Overall, some 30% of people said they were “very concerned” about this issue, a total that has remained largely stable from two previous such studies conducted in 2007 and 2008.

Scores in this area peaked in developing economies, reaching 69% in Colombia, 59% in Ecuador and 58% in China, where figures have nearly doubled in the last three years.

Factors behind this trend include efforts by the Chinese government to improve the relevant legislative framework alongside educating consumers.

With regard to corporate social responsibility, 88% of the panel as a whole believed companies have a vital role to play in countering possible further damage to the environment.

Ratings on this measure were at their highest in China and France, where 98% and 94% of contributors respectively agreed with this statement.

Coca-Cola, the beverage maker, was described as a "trailblazer" for modifying its approach in China, having sought to implement dramatic cuts to its water usage, among a range of other initiatives.

McDonald's, the fast food chain, has taken steps to ensure its packaging is ecologically sound, while practical solutions like Philips low-energy light bulbs have also made an impact.

Similarly, BYD, a domestic conglomerate, is manufacturing battery-powered vehicles for both private and public transport use in China.

Globally, some of the proposed actions that businesses should undertake were to "save energy and reduce waste" on 70% and to "ensure materials are green and ethically sourced" on 58%.

Almost half of those polled said they would pay a premium for brands that boasted a strong pedigree when it came to being eco-friendly.

More specifically, 27% of shoppers pegged the amount they would be willing to add to their normal expenditure to buy goods with this kind of positioning at a maximum of 9%.

A further 22% would be happy for their bills to rise by between 10% and 19% to support goods that were genuinely better for the environment than rival products.

"We are starting to see people connecting their own health to the future well-being of the planet, and they're willing to spend a little more to make sure both are protected," Steve Garton, Synovate's global head of media research, said.

"Companies around the world have been told by consumers, and their wallets, over the past few years to examine how they can become more efficient whilst also ensuring the goods they produce are healthy for the individual and the planet."

In terms of the individual response to climate change, 57% of adults had bought more energy efficient devices, a move that had proved especially popular in Australia, where 79% of participants had done so.

More broadly, 52% of Synovate's cohort had purchased a smaller car, including 52% of the Chinese sample and 47% of their counterparts in South Africa.

Looking forward, 14% of individuals featured in the study either owned or were planning to invest in an electric or hybrid car, climbing to 52% in China and 24% in Brazil.

Data sourced from Synovate; additional content by Warc staff