SINGAPORE: A majority of consumers in some of the biggest markets in Asia Pacific and Africa are embracing "ethical shopping", and buying more fairtrade and eco-friendly products.

MasterCard Worldwide, the financial services specialist, surveyed 3,500 people in 13 countries across these regions, including Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa.

Some 80% of participants in China, Thailand and Malaysia had acquired items with fairtrade credentials, while 60% had opted for brands that donated a percentage of the proceeds to a good cause.

Overall, 70% of participants in Asia Pacific said they "go out of their way" to choose goods with strong environmental records, with a similar number willing to pay a premium for these kinds of offerings.

This included 95% of consumers in China, 87% in Thailand, 83% in India, 82% in the Philippines and 77% in Hong Kong.

"Both female and male respondents embraced the same ethos and principles when making purchases across the key indicators surveyed," Mastercard's report added.

Retailers which had developed their operations to meet these changing preferences had also benefited as a result, with 80% of the panel more likely to offer their custom to these chains.

Figures here peaked at 96% in Thailand, 94% in the Philippines, 91% in China and 89% in India, according to MasterCard Worldwide.

Among the respondents who had bought objects via the web, 75% agreed there was more choice available when it came to finding "green" products.

"There is a shift towards ethical shopping for a new class of knowledgeable and discerning shoppers in the region," said Georgette Tan, vp, communications, Asia Pacific, Middle and Africa of MasterCard Worldwide.

"Consumers are looking beyond discounts and are drawn towards ethical practices ... Consumers are now aware that even when they make their purchases, they can make a difference."

Data sourced from MasterCard; additional content by Warc staff