SINGAPORE: Consumers in China and several other markets in Asia have a strong preference for purchasing from brands considered to be socially and environmentally responsible, according to a new study into ethical spending and charitable giving.

These are some of the findings from a survey of more than 8,700 consumers across 14 markets in Asia-Pacific that was conducted by Mastercard, the global payments firm, in November 2016.

Now released to coincide with the annually observed International Day of Charity, which took place this year on Tuesday, the survey revealed that half of consumers in the region (50.4%) say they donate to charities.

Vietnamese consumers lead the way with 78.5% reporting that they donate to charity, followed by consumers in Thailand (66.3%), Hong Kong (60.2%) and Malaysia (60.0%).

However, consumers in Japan (23.5%), South Korea (33.3%) and China (36.8%) appear to be less generous in this regard.

Yet even though Mastercard observed a seven percentage point drop in the number of Chinese consumers giving to charity since 2015, it emerged that they top the region in terms of their likelihood to buy from different brands they consider to be ethical.

Three-quarters (75.2%) of Chinese consumers say this about vendors regarded as responsible on social, environment and financial matters as well as those who partner with charities or donate some of their profits to them.

Around two-thirds of consumers in Thailand (67.6%), Malaysia (65.7%) and the Philippines (64.6%) feel the same, although the sentiment is shared less among consumers in Japan (20.4%), Australia (28.0%), Singapore (29.1%) and South Korea (31.3%).

Meanwhile, Indonesians (75. 5%), Thais (72.3%) and Malaysians (70.5%) are most likely to consider whether a product is fair trade, environmentally friendly or donates a portion of proceeds to charity, when making purchases.

Overall, consumers across Asia-Pacific rank children’s education and health (37.8%) as the cause closest to their hearts, followed by local natural disaster relief efforts (33.7%), as well as poverty and starvation alleviation initiatives (32.1%).

“We are very encouraged by this year’s findings, which show that consumers across both developed and emerging markets are doing their part to help those less fortunate and give back to their communities,” said Georgette Tan, SVP of Communications at Mastercard Asia Pacific.

“Additionally, with the high value placed on education in Asian culture, it’s strongly encouraging to see that children’s education and health is the cause that consumers are looking to support,” she added.

Data sourced from Mastercard; additional content by WARC staff