NEW DELHI: As Delhi prepares to observe Earth Hour, new research shows that most Indian consumers have taken notice of environmental issues and are increasingly bringing this awareness to their shopping habit.

Global insights provider GfK questioned 1,000 respondents across the country as part of its wider Global Green Index which seeks to develop a picture of consumer attitudes towards topics such as environmental protection and sustainability. It found that more than 80% of respondents expressed positive beliefs and attitudes towards various green behaviours.

In the case of energy saving, for example, some 92% said they took care to buy electrical devices with a low energy consumption rating, even if they were more expensive.

This readiness to pay more extended beyond a simple assessment of the longer term benefit to their finances through reduced electricity usage. A similar proportion (89%) agreed that they were willing to pay more for products that were less harmful to the environment in their manufacture or use.

But Nikhil Mathur, Managing Director for GfK Consumer Choices in India, cautioned that environmental awareness with regard to household energy was very dependent on cost.

"Those who agreed with the statements are prepared to spend on energy-efficiency and energy-saving measures only if they are economically viable, and we noted that the higher the household income, the more people have this attitude," he said.

As practical evidence of this trend, GfK pointed to strong growth in volume sales of air conditioners and refrigerators with inverter technology and five start energy ratings, which it said were up 37% and 10% respectively in the past year.

GfK also highlighted the high level of support (88%) for eco-friendly public transport and said these consumers were not deterred "even if it involves incremental expenses such as car tax".

Earth Hour, the global event that urges households and businesses to turn off non-essential lights for one hour, takes place on the last Saturday in March. Delhi's Lt Governor urged people taking part to adopt energy-saving measures as part of their daily lives.

Data sourced from GfK, Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff