February 17, 2012
Southeast Asia Leads in Willingness to Pay More for Ethical Products; Japan Among Countries to Record a Rise of Charity Donations in 2011
Singapore, 17 February 2012 – Conscience shopping across Southeast Asia remains strong with a number of countries leading the region in purchasing products that are environmentally friendly and observe fair trade principles, according to the latest MasterCard survey on ethical spending.
The survey was conducted via online interviews between 5 December 2011 and 6 January 2012 and involved 12,500 consumers from 25 markets across Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
According to the survey Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and China have a greater willingness to pay more for items that are environmentally friendly, observe fair trade principles, or where a percentage of the item is donated to a good cause, as compared to their counterparts in New Zealand, Australia and Japan. However, between 2009 and 2011 the only increase in consumers willing to pay for a percentage of sale donated to a good cause was South Korea (7%), while drops were recorded in China (-25%), Taiwan (-19%), Japan (-18%), Hong Kong (-15%) and Singapore (-11%).
“The latest MasterCard survey demonstrates that consumers are conscious and wary of the current economic climate, and they continue to display a sense of responsibility about the products they are purchasing,” said Georgette Tan, group head, Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard Worldwide.
“Through initiatives such as MasterCard® Purchase with Purpose™, MasterCard’s social responsibility and citizenship efforts across the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, we are actively encouraging shoppers to think before they buy. Through Purchase with Purpose consumers can give back to communities when they use their MasterCard cards; this is at the heart of a drive by MasterCard to encourage responsible spending and to make a difference to someone else's life.”
Shoppers were also less willing to pay for environmentally friendly products in 2011 when compared with 2009, with Japan (-26%), China (-23%) and Hong Kong (-19%) all showing less inclination towards eco-shopping. Taiwan in particular went from 71% of respondents in 2009 saying they would purchase items because they are environmentally friendly to 40% in 2011.
South Korea (18%) recorded the largest rise for willingness to pay for items based on fair trade principles, with Thailand (4%) the only other country to see an overall increase since 2009. Thailand (94%) consistently continues to have the highest proportion of respondents who based their purchases on fair trade principles, above China (88%) and Indonesia (87%), with Australia (37%) and New Zealand (36%) ranked lowest.
Japan, which was impacted heavily by natural disasters in 2011, saw a rise in terms of charity donations – 42% indicating they were contributing to a charity as opposed to 20% in 2010. In addition, 35% said they were contributing more to charity this year compared with 2010. Thailand, which was affected by recent flooding, also shows more willingness to donate with 31% saying they would contribute more this year than last year.
Socially responsible merchants are a big draw for respondents in the Philippines (76%), Indonesia (76%), Vietnam (78%) and Thailand (82%), when making purchases. However, this is less so for respondents in Hong Kong (45%), Japan (39%), and South Korea (46%).
Amongst those surveyed, affinity towards social organizations that deal with children’s health and education appeared to be the strongest for respondents across Asia Pacific, and environmental organizations have risen in importance in many of the markets in the region. In emerging markets, affinity towards social organizations that deal with poverty/starvation remain highly important.
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