People believe in need for environmental responsibility

Recycle symbol and planet EarthAbout two-thirds of people in six major consumer markets around the globe believe that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations.” They also feel “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society,” according to the Regeneration Consumer Study from BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility.

Results of the online survey of 6,224 consumers in Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted last fall are summarized in the new report, “Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability.”

Interestingly, consumers in the developing markets of Brazil, China and India are more than twice as likely as those in the developed markets of Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States to buy products because of their environmental and social benefits (51% versus 22%), according to the report. Similarly, survey respondents in the developing countries are more willing to pay more for sustainable products (60% versus 26%) and more likely to encourage others to buy from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible (70% versus 34%).

Recycling in the U.S. grows
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling efforts in the United States have grown steadily during the past five decades. Only about 8% of the U.S. waste stream was recycled in 1960. That number increased to 17% in 1990 and is about 33% today.

How can brands overcome common barriers to purchasing more sustainable products? Across the globe, the majority of consumers agree or strongly agree that they would buy more products that are environmentally and socially responsible if they “performed as well as, or better than, products they usually buy” (75%), “didn’t cost more” (70%), if “companies’ health and environmental claims were more believable” (64%), if they “had a better understanding of what makes products environmentally or socially responsible” (63%) or if they “could see environmental or social benefits of the products right away” (63%), the report says.

Survey respondents believe responsibility for the environment should be shared, with nearly equal numbers saying that government (76%), businesses (74%) and consumers (74%) bear responsibility for improving the environment for future generations. Slightly less—65%—say they feel personally responsible.

How do consumers know if they are supporting environmentally friendly companies and products? Four in 10 say certification seals or labels on product packaging are the source of information they trust most.

Other sources of information:

  • Media reports (cited by 31% of respondents)
  • Consumer reviews and ratings (28%)
  • Friends, family or co-workers (27%)
  • Government information and reports (27%).

Traditional company communications are the least-trusted source of information. Only one in 10 consumers turn to company advertisements or website content.

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