LONDON: A third of consumers around the world now say they actively choose to buy from brands they consider to be doing environmental or social good, a new survey from Unilever has revealed.

The FMCG giant, which is active in promoting its Sustainable Living Plan, questioned 20,000 adults across five countries about how sustainability affects their purchasing choices.

Based on responses from consumers in the UK, US, Brazil, India and Turkey, the research then checked these claims against their actual purchasing decisions, Business Green reported.

In addition to the 33% who say they actively choose to buy from brands considered to be sustainable, the survey found that a fifth (21%) say they would be more likely to choose brands that make their sustainability credentials clear on their packaging and in their marketing.

According to Unilever, that equates to an untapped opportunity worth €966bn (£817bn) in sales out of a global market for sustainable goods valued at €2.5tr.

The research further revealed that around half (53%) of UK consumers say they feel better when they buy sustainable products, but this rises to 78% of US consumers and even more in India (88%), Brazil (85%) and Turkey (85%).

Unilever suggested that the difference could be explained by consumers in emerging markets finding themselves more likely to be exposed to the negative consequences of unsustainable business practices as well as greater social pressure in these countries to buy sustainable products.

The company also claimed that its most sustainable brands – such as Dove soap, Hellmann's mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry's ice cream – are growing 30% faster than the rest of the business.

Commenting on the findings, Keith Weed, Unilever's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, said: "To succeed globally, and especially in emerging economies across Asia, Africa and Latin America, brands should go beyond traditional focus areas like product performance and affordability.

"Instead, they must act quickly to prove their social and environmental credentials and show consumers they can be trusted with the future of the planet and communities, as well as their own bottom lines."

Data sourced from Business Green; additional content by Warc staff