73 percent of Consumers Demand Sustainability, But Convenience and Costs Stand in the Way: Alibaba’s Sustainability Trends Report 2023 Reveals
According to the latest independent research commissioned by Alibaba Group, a vast majority of consumers [73 percent] express a strong desire to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. The research, titled “The Sustainability Trends Reports 2023,” surveyed over 14,000 consumers across 14 markets in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Among the key findings, it revealed that consumers in emerging Asian markets, in particular, are eager to live sustainably, with a staggering 87 percent expressing their intent.
However, the research identifies two significant stumbling blocks hindering the widespread adoption of sustainable practices: inconvenience and high costs. Over half of the respondents [53 percent] cited convince as a crucial factor influencing their behavioural changes towards sustainability. Affordability is another critical concern, with one-third [33 percent] of respondents believing that sustainable options are not economically viable.
The research highlights a sense of cynicism [38 percent] among consumers towards businesses’ claims of offering sustainable products. A mere 15 percent of respondents reported complete trust in such claims, indicating the businesses need to work harder to build consumer confidence, especially in European markets.
Alibaba Group has taken a proactive approach to address these challenges. Liu Wei, Alibaba Group ESG Strategy Lead, outlined the company’s commitment to reducing inconveniences, expanding sustainable choices, and optimising supply chains to make sustainability more accessible and affordable for consumers.
As part of its efforts, Alibaba has recently published its Environmental, Social, and Governance [ESG] report, disclosing its Scope 3+ decarbonisation progress, which involves reducing carbon emissions across its ecosystems. The report showcases the success of Alibaba’s carbon ledger platform, which saw an impressive 187 million consumers participating in carbon emission reduction activities in the 12 months leading to March 31, 2023. Additionally 1.91 million products from 409 brands, offered through the low-carbon friendly products programs on Tmall and Taobao, further promote sustainable consumption.
The research reveals a global appetite for knowledge on sustainable practices, with 76 percent of consumers welcoming more information on how to be more sustainable. Consumers in the Philippines [93 percent], Indonesia [91percent], and the UAE [90 percent] exhibit the highest interest in learning about sustainability.
Interestingly, there are regional variations in sustainable online shopping behaviours. Respondents from emerging Asian markets [88 percent] show a greater willingness to learn how to make sustainable purchases online compared to developed Asian markets [66 percent] and Europe [66 percent]. Moreover, while emerging Asian markets [47 percent] prioritise sustainable packaging, Europeans [47 percent] tend to focus on recycling.
In response to shifting consumer sentiments, businesses can play a pivotal role in promoting sustainability. The report suggests that making sustainable products more affordable [61 percent], reducing the use of single-use plastics and packaging [55 percent], and offering a broader range of sustainable products and services [47 percent] are the top three ways businesses can support consumers in making sustainable choices.
To earn consumer trust, businesses are advised to be more transparent and committed to their sustainability claims, supporting their practices with data. By doing so, they can foster empathy among consumers and facilitates a collective journey towards a sustainable future.
The research was conducted by Yonder Consulting, a UK-based firm, with advisory and analysis support from Hong Kong-based The Purpose Business, a sustainability consultancy. The survey took place between January 26 and February 14, 2023, with participants located in 14 markets across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
As consumers globally embrace sustainable lifestyles, the report’s insights serve as a valuable resource for businesses seeking to meet evolving consumer demands and promote sustainable practices. With emerging Asian markets leading the way, the path to a more sustainable future is within reach, provided businesses and consumers work together to overcome obstacles and build a trustworthy foundation for sustainable choices.