Consumers Buying Less and Buying Better
Two-thirds of consumers in six countries say that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” (66%), and that they feel “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society” (65%). The findings are based on an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.
The affinity toward sustainable consumption is being led by consumers in developing markets (Brazil, China, India), who are more than twice as likely as their counterparts in developed markets (Germany, UK, US) to report purchasing products because of environmental and social benefits (51% to 22%, respectively), being willing to pay more for sustainable products (60% to 26%) and encouraging others to buy from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible (70% to 34%).
However, significant barriers to sustainable purchasing remain for consumers across all markets, including perceptions of product performance, high prices, skepticism about product claims and a lack of knowledge about what makes a product socially or environmentally responsible.
Key Findings from the Regeneration Consumer Study (2012)
- Consuming Less, Consuming Better: While 66% of consumers across the six countries surveyed believe in consuming less, the pattern varies across markets, with 76% of consumers in developing markets and 57% in developed markets being inclined to believe that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations.” Similarly, consumers in emerging markets are much more likely than consumers in developed markets to “feel a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society” (82% to 49%, respectively).
- Shifting Perceptions: Views on Price, Performance and Credibility Most Frequently Undermine Sustainable Purchasing: A majority of consumers globally agree or strongly agree that they would “purchase more products that are environmentally and socially responsible” if they “performed as well as, or better than, products they usually buy” (75%), “it didn’t cost more” (70%), “companies’ health and environmental claims were more believable” (64%), they “had a better understanding of what makes products environmentally or socially responsible” (63%), or they “could see environmental or social benefits of the products right away” (63%). Price is the top barrier to green purchasing in developed markets (78%) while product performance (74%) is the top barrier in developing markets along with needing “a better understanding of what makes products socially and environmentally responsible” (72%).
- Collaboration and Participation – Being Part of the Solution: Two-thirds of consumers globally (67%) are “interested in sharing their ideas, opinions and experiences with companies to help them develop better products or create new solutions,” while seven in ten consumers (72%) globally “believe in voting and advocating for issues important to me.”
Background and Methodology
Developed by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, The Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption among 6,224 respondents across six major international markets (Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States) conducted in September and October 2012. Drawn from consumer research panels, global data are comparable to having a margin of error of +/- 1.3 percent. Analysis of country-level data reflects a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.