Household budget squeeze stalls sustainable choices of 23 in APAC

Kantar study finds brand owners must prioritise mainstream affordability and communication of sustainable products and services, solving for air and water pollution, waste and decarbonisation.

SINGAPORE, Oct. 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Despite 98% of people in APAC wanting to live a sustainable life, the rising cost of living is preventing the 2 in 3 who want to do more for the planet from acting on their good intentions (67%), according to Kantar’s Sustainability Sector Index 2022 in APAC, as part of a global benchmark study from the world’s leading marketing data and analytics company.

People in Thailand (76%) feel the most impact on their sustainable behaviour because of the cost-of-living.

Figure 1. I want to do more to be more mindful of the planet and the environment, but my increased cost of living prevents me from doing so – Top 2 box strongly agree/agree.

 29% of consumers in APAC are among the most active when it comes to sustainability. Almost 8 in 10 of APAC’s “actives” – those prepared to spend more time and effort to reduce their impact on the planet – are feeling the rising cost-of-living on maintaining their sustainable lifestyles (77%).

Shoppers want affordable price points to change sustainable intention into action

Meanwhile two-thirds of APAC shoppers say products that are ‘better for the environment and society’ are more expensive (66%) with just two in five of those who are ‘struggling’ with their household budgets now actively seeking brands that offer ways to offset their impact on the environment (40%) compared to the two-thirds who are financially ‘comfortable’ (65%).

“APAC’s unique make-up of diverse economies mean affordable price points are an imperative to ensure shoppers convert their intentions into action when it comes to sustainability, especially as most of us want to do good,” says Trezelene Chan, Head of Sustainability for Kantar in APAC.

“Brands must deliver on price to avoid sustainability being a luxury for the wealthy in our region given 7 in 10 want to buy environmentally sustainable products and services, according to our recent Global Issues Barometer. While there will always be a premium segment, brands must start mainstreaming and collaborating across the entire value-chain to drive economies of scale. By offering a sustainable product with a price point that more people can afford will drive mass market adoption and help brands grow their value now and in the future.”

Not knowing sustainable alternatives is the second major barrier for APAC shoppers

Besides price, other barriers relate to the sustainable offers such as their availability, quality and level of information. When making their purchasing decisions, 9 in 10 shoppers are also now ‘taking careful note of’ or ‘sometimes considering’ the causes that their chosen brands support (89%) with 7 in 10 saying that clear certification explaining the ethical benefits would influence their purchase (68%).

People are more likely to stay abreast of a company’s sustainability efforts and support or stop using brands based on their impact on the environment. But there are 6 in 10 shoppers who are finding it hard to tell which products and services are good or bad ethically or for the environment (58%). Almost half do not know where to find sustainable or ethical products (46%) and one-third are concerned that sustainable products work less well, or they are lower quality (32%).

Greenwashing is another hurdle to overcome with 84% of sceptical consumers saying they have seen misleading information about sustainable actions taken by companies and 45% worrying brands are involved in environmental and social issues just for commercial reasons.

Brand owners need to reduce air and water pollution, waste and take leadership in decarbonisation

Over three in five people pay a lot of attention to both environmental and societal issues in the news (63%) and almost half say they are ‘usually aware’ of a company’s sustainable initiatives (46%), so it’s important for companies to address the issues that matter to consumers in APAC.

Air pollution and hazardous waste disposal are the most common issues that consumers in APAC are looking for companies in different sectors to tackle, followed by water pollution and carbon emissions leading to global warming. Consumers want companies in 22 of 38 indicated sectors to tackle overpackaging, non-recyclable packaging and landfill, overconsumption, and waste.

Figure 2. Top 10 concerns on sustainability APAC (out of 43 topics – Max Diff mean score of importance)

“Overwhelmingly people across APAC want brands to help them practice sustainability in their daily lives by addressing costs and perceived lack of brand transparency, so it’s important to tackle the sustainable issues that are most important to people in our region. Overall, environmental issues are seen as more important than social challenges; however, they vary according to each market’s local need, cultural context, and generations. The concerns for environmental issues are driven across the generations. Social issues are also important, but we see younger generations are more concerned about mental health issues. In Singapore tackling ‘mental health’ issues ranked 6th, out of 43 topics that companies should be concerned about and address. Mental health is also one of the most important issues that consumers expect companies in online tech and social media or in-home entertainment sectors to tackle in APAC”, adds Trezelene Chan.

“We know that APAC is set to be the wealthiest region by 2030 but it is also the most vulnerable to environmental and in turn, social issues. As companies work to convert their corporate sustainability strategies into clear brand actions that connect and gain trust with consumers, they must strategically align their commitment to addressing relevant category sustainability issues through communications or product offers in an easy, compelling and meaningful way that resonate with consumers.”

Kantar’s Sustainability Sector Index 2022 in APAC will be explored in detail during a free webinar on Wednesday 19 October. Download the infographic here

About Kantar

Kantar is the world’s leading marketing data and analytics company. We have a complete, unique and rounded understanding of how people think, feel and act; globally and locally in over 90 markets. By combining the deep expertise of our people, our data resources and benchmarks, our innovative analytics and technology, we help our clients understand people and inspire growth.

About the study

Kantar’s Sustainability Sector Index 2022 is based on interviews with 33,000 consumers in 32 countries in Americas (6,007), APAC (11,020), Europe (16,017) in June 2022. APAC covered Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.