While the majority of consumers around the world (83%) say that it is important that companies implement programs to improve the environment, only 22% say they will pay more for an eco-friendly product, according to The Nielsen Company’s 2011 Global Online Environment & Sustainability Survey of more than 25,000 internet respondents in 51 countries. In addition, about three in four (76%) global consumers say raw materials influence their decisions on where to shop and what to buy.
Middle East/Africa Most Willing to Pay More
Willingness to pay extra for environmentally-friendly goods is highest in the Middle East/Africa, where one-third of consumers are willing and lowest in North America, where only 12% of both Canadians and Americans say they will pay extra for eco-friendly products.
Many consumers reported a personal preference for eco-friendly goods, but large percentages of respondents report setting aside this preference and buying whichever product is cheapest, including 48% in North America, 36% in Middle East/Africa, 35% in Europe, 33% in Asia Pacific, and 27% in Latin America.
Sustainable Practices Provoke Mixed Feelings
Global consumers have mixed feelings about the environmental impact and benefits of particular sustainable practices. While 64% of consumers, globally, indicated they believe organic products are good for environment, there is wide regional disparity of opinion. Eighty percent of Latin Americans and 72% of Asia Pacific respondents think organic products are environmentally friendly, but fewer people are convinced in Europe (58%), Middle East/Africa (57%), and North America (49%).
Energy Efficiency, Recycled Packaging Most Popular
Among other environmental and sustainability efforts manufacturers have taken, recycled packaging and energy efficient products are seen as the most broadly helpful. About eight in 10 (83%) believe that manufacturers using recycled packaging and producing energy efficient products and appliances have a positive impact on the environment.
Fewer consumers are convinced of the environmental impact of local products (59%), fair trade products (51%) and products not tested on animals (44%). In addition, belief in the impact of “local” products is highest in North America, where 65% of consumers believe these products have a positive impact on the environment.
As mentioned above, 76% of global online consumers say they take raw materials into account when deciding where to shop and what to buy. Latin American consumers are most likely to take materials into account, with nearly nine out of 10 saying that the use of raw materials harmful to the environment influences where they shop and what they buy. North American consumers are the least influenced by the use of harmful raw materials (59%).
Gallup: US Environmental Concern Drops
Gallup data released in March 2011 indicates the current levels of US public concern about various environmental problems are essentially unchanged from 2010. However, Americans are less worried today than they were 10 years ago about all eight issues Gallup measured in 2001. For example, pollution of drinking water dropped as an issue causing a great deal or fair amount of worry from 88% to 77% of Americans, a 12.5% decline. Concern about global warming dropped an even larger 19%, from 63% to 51% of Americans.
Gallup notes the decline during the past decade spans a period when its data indicates the public often expressed surging concern about terrorism, the Iraq war, gas prices, and the economy. Gallup also advises that the poll was conducted prior to the emergence of this year’s earthquake- and tsunami-generated nuclear crisis in Japan.