Monday, April 18, 2011

Are China's consumers going for green?

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...The Earth Flag via Wikipedia
Reuters came earlier today with an interesting dispatch, based on a report by Ogilvy&Mather, called Get Going with Green: Closing the Sustainability Gap. It says that China's consumers are willing to pay extra - although not more than ten percent - when a product is produced sustainable. The Reuters' story:
Convenience is the main factor driving shopping decisions for more than half of the 1,300 Chinese consumers across China surveyed by global advertising and marketing firm Ogilvy & Mather, but 71 percent said they would pay up to 10 percent more or higher for some "green" products.

"Within about a 15 percent price band, if two items have comparable brand image, people will go for the sustainable option," Kunal Sinha, the lead author of the study and head of the company's sustainability practice in China, told Reuters.
I was not yet able to get the full report, (here are more details, but also no link) but the message they picked for the press release was both positive and surprising. When Chinese consumers really were going to spend money on a cause that was not directly beneficial for them, I was losing touch with the Chinese consumers. The survey already said it was no mainstream feature and at the very end, one other expert disagree with the report:
Joel Backaler, a director at the consulting firm Frontier Strategy Group who blogs on Chinese consumption trends, says mainstream Chinese consumers are focused on aspirational purchases in the short to medium-term and will not begin focusing on green and sustainable consumption for years.

"The vast majority of China's middle class are for the first time learning how to spend and join the consumption phenomenon that their counterparts in the U.S. and Western Europe have long enjoyed," he told Reuters in an email
Also CMR-director Shaun Rein was up in arms and responded to my tweet:
CMR's research contrary to Ogilvy's findings Study says sustainable consumption on the fringe in China.
It is halftime, and I'm not yet convinced by the Ogilvy survey, but will come back on the issue when I get more material.

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