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Sustainable brands sought in Singapore

News, 06 October 2015

SINGAPORE: Sustainability is on the agenda for brands as Singaporean consumers push back against South East Asia's continued haze crisis.

For the past forty years, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have been annually enveloped by choking haze from seasonal 'burn-offs' in rural Indonesia to clear forests for palm oil planting.

As the 2015 season stretches into its fifth week, Singaporean consumers are looking toward brands that avoid unsustainably harvested palm oil.

Research suggests that Singaporeans are increasingly likely to consider sustainability when making purchase decisions. In a survey conducted among 1,271 Singaporean consumers in June, furniture company IKEA found that more than half indicated that they planned to buy food that is sustainably sourced in future.

Local non-governmental organisations such as World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Singapore) and the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) are seeking to capitalise on a more 'green' shopper, urging consumers to support companies with a sustainable, environmentally friendly approach to production.

WWF-Singapore's "We Breathe What We Buy" campaign urges consumers and businesses to fight the haze by pledging to avoid products that use palm oil and support WWF's efforts to educate companies about sustainable palm oil harvesting methods.


The ongoing campaign aims to collect 50,000 pledges from consumers to support companies that go "haze-free" including TV spots, online video and outdoor. Billboards look from a distance like lipstick, pizza or toothpaste, but upon closer examination reveal burning forests.

3M has donated thousands of air filtration masks to be given away to people who take the WWF pledge.

Unilever Vice President for Procurement, Biswaranjan Sen, reiterated in comments to Singapore's TODAY newspaper that Singaporean consumers are equally concerned about the effects of climate change.

"If you went out to speak to Singaporeans or Indonesians in Jakarta, our experience is that consumers are concerned about climate change and want to see corporates do the right thing," he said.

Sports brands have in the past used the haze crisis as a marketing opportunity, with Adidas, for example, giving away daily free gym passes to Singaporeans based on that day's Pollution Score Index.

Nike took a more direct approach in Jakarta, "hacking" the city to inspire people to get involved in a 10km run that took over high-traffic areas.

Data sourced from Marketing, TODAY; additional content by Warc staff