Related News

Home » Feature » Education

Chinese consumers overstate green credentials

THE results of a recent online survey on Chinese people's understanding and expectations regarding sustainability prove the existence of the sustainability gap - the gap between people's claimed and actual sustainable behavior.

About 1,300 people participated in the online survey conducted by the Ogilvy and Mather Group from July to October 2010. And a big gap was found between what people claim to be doing and the actual habits they practice.

"When you ask a consumer whether he or she is 'green,' you will always get the positive answer, as claiming to be green is the politically correct thing to say today," says Kunal Sinha, chief of Ogilvy Earth, the global sustainability practice within the Ogilvy and Mather Group.

In the survey, 50 percent of participants said that they use renewable energy at home, 38 percent said they used alternative automobile fuel and 52 percent said they avoided using plastic bags.

"When people claim they are green, it is because they already have the knowledge that they need to change their behavior," says Sinha. "However, regardless of all the knowledge, they seem to feel powerless to make real change."

The high price of green products seems to be a big obstacle for people becoming really green. About 53 percent of those asked said that green options were too expensive. Sixty-nine percent said that they would purchase them if environmentally friendly products were available at the same price as regular products, and 71 percent are happy to pay if the additional cost is no more than 10 percent.

Difficulty in purchasing a green product is another concern that prevents people from being green. Fifty-five percent of the respondents said that they are driven by convenience for their purchases. They do not appreciate spending time and effort to find green products that cost more. And many Chinese consumers are confronted by an overload of claims and certifications of "green products" they do not trust.

The researchers also spent four months visiting 24 families in Tianjin, Shanghai and Wuxi in Jiangsu Province for a more detailed study on Chinese consumption habits concerning environmental protection.

There are flexible progressives with high environmental awareness as well as misguided materialists who believe in "the more, the better" among the participants, according to Dr Michael Griffiths, director of ethnography at Ogilvy Mather Shanghai. But the researchers also found that there are always chances to pose an impact and make possible changes through proper dialogue and education.

"While engaging with the subjects, it became clear to us that no matter how 'misguided' or 'skeptical' an individual might be, there is still an opportunity to engage in a dialogue that favors sustainable behavior," says Griffiths.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend