BERLIN: Over three-quarters of shoppers would be willing to pay a premium for products with the highest safety standards, according to a report.

TÜV SÜD, the testing firm, polled 5,000 people in China, India, Japan, the UK and US, and found 77% were willing to pay an average premium of 16% to buy goods with "exemplary" safety credentials.

Some 63% of interviewees also agreed product safety is now "very important" to them, an increase from 47% in 2007.

The level of concern also varied by purchase channel, as 57% of interviewees expressed greater worries about this issue when buying online compared with in stores.

A further 29% reported that they did not understand product safety labels, while 51% had used at least one product that turned out to be unsafe in the last five years.

Cuts from sharp edges were mentioned by 24%, ahead of allergic reactions on 21% and injuries from product design on 18%.

An additional 58% of the sample did not think governments were sufficiently tough on companies which failed to meet the requisite quality level.

The findings of a related poll of 500 executives by TÜV SÜD found that businesses thought they would need to increase production costs by 19% to reach the best safety standards.

They had also conducted ten recalls on average in the last five years, at a cost of nearly 10% of revenues.

Ishan Palit, the chief executive of TÜV SÜD's product service division, said: "The results indicate companies are overestimating the cost required to achieve exemplary safety standards.

"From our experience, attaining the highest safety requires significantly less than an increase of 19% in production costs."

More broadly, a 56% majority of firms still cannot trace all the components in their products through their supply chain, and 47% could not guarantee safety requirements for such reasons.

Another 30% admitted safety practices were at a "low" level, while 50% of manufacturers, retailers and distributors did not independently test products, even though 80% of shoppers viewed this as important.

Palit said: "The complexity of modern supply chains in terms of both depth and geographic reach has made it increasingly difficult for organisations to trace all of the components in their products.

"However, complete traceability is not impossible and must be pursued because the first step to solving an issue is identifying the source of the problem."

Data sourced from TÜV SÜD; additional content by Warc staff