Young people in China prefer brands that reduce carbon emissions

Concerns about the environment are higher in Asia than in the west.

China was the world's biggest polluter in 2010. Credit: Getty Images

In a study of 2,500 young adults aged between 18 and 25 across five continents, commissioned by the Carbon Trust and conducted by TNS, 83 per cent of those surveyed in China said they would be more loyal to a brand if they could see it was reducing its carbon footprint, compared to 73 per cent in South Korea, 55 per cent in the UK and 57 per cent in the US.

Sixty per cent of young adults in China who participated in the research said that they would stop buying a product if its producer refused to commit to measuring and reducing its carbon footprint. In Brazil, 57 per cent said they would do the same; in Korea, the figure was 53 per cent; it was 35 per cent in the US and 36 per cent in the UK.

Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, said:

These new findings are startling. Sixty per cent of young adults questioned in China would stop buying a product if its manufacturer refused to commit to measuring and reducing its carbon footprint, compared to just 35 per cent of those in the US.

Perhaps it is the Chinese, and not the US consumer, that really holds the key to unlocking the mass demand for new low-carbon products necessary to deliver an environmentally sustainable economy. If global brands don’t build international carbon reduction strategies even faster, they risk missing out on the spending power of emerging economies.

Eighty-one per cent of those questioned in Brazil said that companies should be obliged to provide proof of their policy to reduce their carbon footprint, higher than any other nation; 68 per cent of those surveyed worldwide want to see companies’ carbon impact quantified by an independent organisation. This is highest in China at 84 per cent and lowest in the US at 55 per cent.

Across all the markets, a third of young consumers (33 per cent) on average say that they are prepared to buy a more expensive product if it has a lower carbon footprint.

When asked which products and categories could do the most to reduce their carbon footprint, 68 per cent of young consumers cited consumer electronics companies, followed by consumer health-care brands (50 per cent), clothes manufacturers and retailers (50 per cent), and food manufacturers and retailers (48 per cent).

Through its carbon-reduction and footprinting services, Carbon Trust customers around the world have put £3.7bn on their bottom line and cut their carbon emissions by 38 million tonnes.

Delay added:

Carbon footprinting makes perfect business sense. We are increasingly advising businesses overseas, and international brands, on their carbon-reduction strategies, as the financial and reputational benefits of lowering emissions go global.

The research, conducted between 24 February and 6 March 2012, found that across the six markets, 78 per cent want their favourite brands to help reduce their carbon footprint; 70 per cent would be more loyal to a brand if they could see it was reducing its carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, 46 per cent would find carbon footprinting on packaging useful and it would influence their purchasing decisions; 33 per cent would buy a more expensive product if it had a lower carbon footprint; 29 per cent want to reduce their carbon footprint but are confused about how to go about it; 28 per cent are trying to reduce their carbon footprint but feel they could do more and 21 per cent feel they are doing their bit to reduce their carbon footprint.

Young adults believe consumer electronics (68 per cent), consumer health-care brands (50 per cent), clothes manufacturers and retailers (50 per cent) and food manufacturers and retailers (48 per cent) have the greatest responsibility to reduce their carbon footprints.