Are sustainable products too expensive?

  • Living
  • Tuesday, 05 Sep 2023

It's hard to be a more responsible consumer when everyday products are so expensive. Photo: AFP

Although many of us are striving to adopt more environmentally friendly habits, a major obstacle to choosing products that are more sustainable is their price tag, a recent report demonstrates.

In both Europe and Asia, greenwashing and the high prices of sustainable products are viewed as problematic.

Doing more for the planet as an individual and embracing more environmentally friendly practices can be a complicated matter, with progress being made but significant obstacles in the way.

As heatwaves affect large swathes of the planet – and researchers suggesting that these episodes have been made more likely by human-caused climate change – we're reminded of how urgent it is to find solutions to better preserve the environment.

An international report commissioned by Chinese group Alibaba from Britain-based consultancy firm Yonder Consulting indicates that consumers have a deep-seated desire to take action for the preservation of the planet. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of a sample of over 14,000 consumers surveyed in Europe, the Middle East and Asia say they want to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. In emerging Asian markets, this proportion rises to 87%.

Greenwashing – an issue everywhere

However, the obstacles preventing consumers from purchasing more sustainable products are the same in Europe and Asia. Greenwashing, for example, is a major issue.

Some 38% of consumers worldwide question the trustworthiness of brands marketing products as sustainable, with 56% of Thais, 48% of French and 47% of Singaporeans expressing doubts about the real motivation of such companies.

These are the three countries in the world where consumers are most likely to believe that a company's environmental claims are another way for it to justify selling more expensive products.

And pricing is the other area where Asia and Europe find common ground. For 45% of consumers worldwide, sustainable products are too expensive. And it's hard to be a more responsible consumer when everyday products are so expensive – a view shared the world over.

Thirty-three per cent of this large sample indicate that if sustainable products were more accessibly priced, it would be easier to make choices that are more in line with protecting the planet.

For 84% of Thais, sustainable purchasing is prohibitively expensive, which was the case for 41% of the United Arab Emirates respondents and 37% of Spaniards.

Among the regions surveyed, Asians show the greatest motivation and interest in finding information in order to make their patterns of consuming more sustainable.

Consumers in the Philippines (93%) and Indonesia (91%) are the most likely to welcome getting more information about becoming sustainable.

More than anywhere else, people in emerging Asian markets are keen to know how to make more sustainable online purchases (88% vs 66% in Europe).

The Sustainability Trends Report 2023 was produced by Yonder Consulting based on feedback from 14,125 consumers to an online survey, interviewed between Jan 26 and Feb 14, 2023, in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Britain, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. – AFP Relaxnews

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