NEW YORK: More than 60% of consumers around the world are interested in changing their shopping habits for environmental and social reasons, new figures show.

BBMG, the brand consultancy, allied with GlobeScan, the insights firm, and SustainAbility, the think tank, to poll 6,224 adults in Brazil, China, Germany, India, the UK and US.

Precisely 66% of respondents agreed it was crucial to cut consumption levels to protect the planet and future generations, hitting 82% across Brazil, China and India, versus 49% for Germany, the UK and US.

"Consumers are seeking brands that can improve their own lives while creating a more sustainable economy that can benefit all," Raphael Bemporad, a co-founder of BBMG, said.

Some 65% of the panel felt a "sense of responsibility" to purchase products with strong social and environmental credentials, again peaking at 76% in emerging nations, and only 57% in mature markets.

Within this, a 51% majority of participants from Brazil, China and India already bought goods based on such criteria, a total reaching just 22% among their peers from Germany, the UK and US.

Similarly, while 60% of emerging market shoppers would pay a premium for these items, scores fell to 26% in the mature economies. These amounts stood at 70% and 34% in turn for encouraging others to buy from firms with excellent records in this area.

A 67% share also proved keen to discuss their ideas, opinions and experiences with firms to help them progress in this space.

"We believe understanding people's aspirations around consumerism and sustainability is an important area of inquiry," said Ursula Mathar, head of sustainability and environmental protection at BMW, the automaker. "This topic requires a great deal more understanding in order to increase sustainable consumption."

Certain obstacles do remain, however, as fully 75% of the sample would buy ethical lines with greater regularity if performance levels clearly matched the offerings they typically purchased.

Another 70% of contributors had similar worries about the higher cost of these goods, while 64% doubted whether corporate claims in this area were accurate.

For 63% of shoppers, gaining a better understanding of what made products socially or ecologically superior was key, and the same number wanted to see benefits from such offerings "right away".

"Sustainability is fast becoming a key factor when it comes to consumers' purchasing decisions, yet there are still barriers that need to be addressed," Kelly Semrau, chief sustainability officer at SC Johnson, said.

Data sourced from BBMG; additional content by Warc staff