SINGAPORE: Consumers in emerging markets across Asia-Pacific are more likely than their peers in mature economies to choose a product based on whether it is perceived as being socially responsible, a new survey has found.

Based on a poll of 500 adults in 14 countries, MasterCard, the finance transactions firm, discovered that consumers in all seven emerging economies that took part are far more inclined to consider a brand's ethical credentials.

The two most important ethical issues for them are whether a merchant is environmentally responsible and whether a product is fair trade. Another important consideration is charitable giving.

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Overall, these sentiments are held by significant majorities in Indonesia (78.7%), China (73.8%), Malaysia (73.8%), Thailand (73.6%), India (72.9%), the Philippines (71.5%) and Vietnam (69.1%).

More than half (57.5%) of consumers in Taiwan are judged to be ethical shoppers, but the proportion then begins to drop in Singapore (43.2%), Japan (39.3%), South Korea (38.2%), Hong Kong (37.8%) and New Zealand (33.5%).

Purchases of socially responsible products are the lowest in Australia (29.1%), according to the report, although it said consumers in Japan (20.9%) are least likely to consider whether a merchant acts "ethically" when shopping.

Across the region, an average of 64% bought products based on fair trade principles, 58.8% bought products which are environmentally friendly while 47% purchased products that donate a portion of their sales to a good cause.

Chinese shoppers (68.3%) are the most likely to buy products from a merchant they consider to be ethical, followed by consumers in Thailand (68%) and Malaysia (64.3%).

Commenting on the report, Georgette Tan, group head of communications at MasterCard Asia/Pacific, said: "People in emerging markets are increasingly concerned about the impact of rapid growth on the environment and society.

"It is not surprising that they are more likely to think of the supply chain and ethics of a merchant when deciding what to buy and where to shop."

Data sourced from MasterCard; additional content by Warc staff