Survey reveals China’s growing desire for green products

Chinese consumers express greater confidence in green products than North American consumers.

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A survey released in December by DuPont revealed a growing understanding of green products among urban Chinese consumers. Seventy percent of respondents expressed confidence in the environmental claims of green products. The findings reflect the potential for green products in the world’s largest consumer market and how this demand could help China meet its sustainability targets.

In the DuPont “China Green Living Survey: Consumer Awareness and Adoption of Bio-based Products,” DuPont found that a majority of Chinese consumers are likely to purchase apparel, personal care, hygiene and household products made from bio-based ingredients that offer environmental benefits. These “green” products use ingredients that are composed of biological or renewable agricultural materials, rather than synthetics, and are biodegradable. Since bio-based ingredients, such as enzymes, often replace petroleum-based ingredients, they help reduce reliance on nonrenewable resources.

While just 4 in 10 surveyed said they are very or somewhat familiar with green products, most urban Chinese consumers agree on the factors that make a product “green” and accept that bio-based products meet the criteria. The findings also noted that higher-income Chinese consumers were more familiar with and receptive to green products as well as bio-based products.

Characteristic Percentage Who Agree it is Definitely or Likely Green
Contains recycled material 84%
Made from renewable materials 84%
Use less energy to produce 84%
Requires less energy to use at home 76%
Requires less water to use at home 74%
Use less water to produce 73%

According to the research, Chinese consumers express greater confidence that green products are better for the environment than North American consumers surveyed last year. When asked about their confidence that green products are better for the environment, 70 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed said they were either very or somewhat confident. A similar survey of North American consumers, released in 2011, showed that 65 percent of Canadians and 60 percent of Americans were confident that green products are better for the environment. More than three quarters of the respondents said they would definitely or likely buy bio-based products in a range of categories.

Type of Product Percentage Who Definitely or Likely Would Buy
Detergents 82%
Personal hygiene products 81%
Clothing 78%
Personal Care Products 77%

In the North American survey, about 8 in 10 consumers said they would definitely or likely buy bio-based products if comparable on cost and quality to nonbio-based products.

DuPont’s survey also found that consumers are more apt to believe that bio-based ingredients improve the quality of a product. For example, more than 60 percent of consumers said that bio-based ingredients used in personal care products, personal hygiene and detergents would make the products better.

Ripe for bio-based products

DuPont estimates the market in China for bio-based ingredients used to make a range of commercial and industrial products is growing. Already in North America, there are more than 20,000 products made with bio-based ingredients, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the BioPreferred Program to encourage the purchase and use of bio-based products.

“Just like the United States, China has the opportunity to develop and promote products made with bio-based ingredients as part of a strategy to reduce petroleum consumption, increase the use of renewable resources, better manage the carbon cycle and help contribute to reducing adverse environmental impacts,” said Ron Buckhalt, program manager, BioPreferred Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chinese consumers already can purchase a range of products made with bio-based ingredients. These include detergents that clean at lower water temperatures for reduced energy use, and personal care and cosmetic products that are made with naturally derived ingredients rather than synthetics. Manufacturers can respond to consumer preferences as well by utilizing bio-based enzymes that reduce water and energy consumption in the manufacturing process.

About the China Green Living Survey

The research is based on face-to-face, street intercept interviews conducted July 21-Aug. 6, 2012, by Environics Research (in collaboration with N-Dynamic Market Research) with 1,000 Chinese consumers in the following nine mainland cities: Beijing, Chengdu, Dalian, Huangshi, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Yinchuan, as well as Hong Kong.

DuPont, one of the first companies to publicly establish environmental goals more than 20 years ago, has broadened its sustainability commitments beyond internal footprint reduction to include market-driven targets for both revenue and research and development investment. The goals are tied directly to business growth, specifically to the development of safer and environmentally improved new products for key global markets.

Source: DuPont

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