Consumers in emerging markets China and Brazil are buying more green products, despite a widespread and growing perception that environmentally friendly alternatives are too expensive, according to research from GfK.
The Green Gauge Global research released by GfK found the proportion of consumers who factor environmental protection into their purchase decisions grew 6 percentage points in China and 5 points in Brazil from last year. Mexico and South Africa also recorded significant increases in the past year, GfK said.
Globally, six in 10 consumers surveyed feel environmentally friendly product alternatives are too expensive, roughly the same results found in 2011. That sentiment is on the rise in the same nations where green buying increased, such as China and South Africa, GfK said.
Knowing this, green-friendly companies entering new markets should be attuned to price concerns from the start and price products competitively to win loyal customers, said Timothy Kenyon, director of the GfK Green Gauge Global study.
The Green Gauge study, now in its third year, includes interview with more than 35,000 consumers in 25 key markets about their environmental attitudes and behaviors. Markets covered by the study are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK and the United States.
The Green Gauge Global study also tracks consumer segments defined by environment-related beliefs and behaviors. For example, the so-called Glamor Greens, who have an average level of environmental concern, but see a green lifestyle as a status indicator, now amount to 30 percent of consumers globally.
The Jaded segment, skeptics who feel green issues are less important, grew by 2 percentage points globally since last year and now account for 23 percent of all consumers.
GfK’s Green Gauge US Report released last year reported that 39 percent of Americans believe companies’ assertions about the environment are not accurate, representing a nine percentage point drop from 2008 levels. The 2011 survey also found only 37 percent of consumers believe business and industry are fulfilling their responsibility to the environment, a 2 percentage point improvement from the 2007 level of 29 percent.
The US survey found Americans’ purchasing choices focused on economics over sustainability. In the survey, 41 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “First comes economic security, then we can worry about environmental problems.”