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Sustainability a Key Factor for Consumers, Survey Finds

Two thirds of consumers in six countries recognize the need to consume less and purchase products that are good for the environment and society, according to an online survey.

The Regeneration Consumer Study, a joint project by GlobeScan and SustainAbility with support from BBMG, surveyed 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the UK and the US.

The study is part of The Regeneration Roadmap, an initiative designed to advance sustainable development in the private sector. A full report on the survey, which was conducted in September and October 2012, will be released Tuesday.

Consumers in developing markets such as Brazil, China and India are particularly inclined towards sustainable consumption, according to the survey. For example, 51 percent of consumers in developing markets report purchasing products because of environmental and social benefits, compared to just 22 percent of their counterparts in developed nations, such as Germany, the UK and the US.

Consumers in developing countries also are more than twice as willing to pay more for sustainable products (60 percent compared to 26 percent), the survey said. Consumers in Brazil, China and India also were more likely to influence their peers with 70 percent saying they encourage others to buy from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible, compared to 34 percent in developed countries.

Two-thirds of consumers globally (67 percent) said they are interested in sharing their ideas, opinions and experiences with companies to help them develop better products or create new solutions, according to the survey.

Still, significant barriers to sustainable purchasing stand in the way 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, the survey said.

Research released in October by Cone Communications also found consumers had a lack of understanding about sustainable products.

The survey found that while consumers have a strong belief in corporate social responsibility, 63 percent admit to not knowing where to find such information and 55 percent say they don’t understand the impact they’re having when buying a product from a company that says it’s socially responsible.

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