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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Indians don't believe in global warming!

Despite economic downturn, Indian consumers put premium on products/brands perceived to be socially responsible

BANGALORE, INDIA: Indians do not believe the environment is in crisis, but they think it is important to take environmentally-friendly actions and it is a high priority for them. Hence, 88 percent of Indian consumers are prepared to pay more for goods that are environmentally friendly against 82 percent in China. In Japan, only 68 percent of consumers feel the environment is the most important issue.

Unlike their peers in every other country, respondents in India believe there is too much fuss about the environment (79 percent) and they do not believe the world is experiencing global warming (56 percent). Still, 92 percent feel it is their duty to contribute to a better society and environment.

These are some of the interesting findings to emerge from a study of consumers in India, China and Japan, part of a 10-market global study called 'goodpurpose' conducted by Edelman, the world's largest independent PR firm.

The study seeks to understand consumer attitudes and preferences on the emerging issue of social purpose. Its findings show that despite the economic downturn, a strong majority think it is important to purchase products and brands they perceive to be socially responsible (India 90 percent, China 90 percent and Japan 64 percent).

"What we find particularly interesting in this study is that economic concerns are taking a distant place behind consumers' demands that quality brands be produced by socially conscious companies," says Alan VanderMolen, Edelman's Asia-Pacific President.

"The current economic crisis has made little or no difference to the financial or voluntary support given to good causes by Indians. We found that 23 percent of Indian respondents have actually paid more for a brand because it supports a good cause. We believe this is driven by two factors. First, the obvious fallout from product safety issues in the region over the past 18 months; and second, an expanding middle class that now has the power to address social issues at home through purchase decisions."

'Doing good' can forge bonds with consumers and translate to 'doing well'
"In India, 49 percent of consumers do not know of any socially responsible brands. However, a large majority agreed that it is important for brands and companies to set aside money for a good cause during an economic recession. Given the loyalty to socially-conscious brands, companies and brands in India should look at engaging with consumers to effect enduring positive change and build a deeper relationship with them. When brands act as 'citizen brands,' contributing to community and society beyond their functional benefits, 'doing good' can translate to 'doing well' and the brand can forge a stronger emotional bond with its consumers," VanderMolen added.

Even in an economic downturn, the majority of consumers in India and China would remain loyal to brands that have a good purpose. About 84 percent in India and 77 percent of consumers in China say they would remain loyal to socially-responsible brands in a recession. However, Japanese consumers tend to be less committed during tough times, with 46 percent saying they would remain loyal to a brand that demonstrated social purpose in an economic downturn.

"Brands that engage in social purpose have the opportunity to solidify relationships with consumers by consistently delivering quality products and demonstrating an ongoing commitment to the social welfare of the communities in which they are operating. Even in turbulent times like these, corporations receive short and long term benefits by delivering socially purposeful brands and top quality products" VanderMolen said.

Reducing poverty top of mind cause in India
Sixty-two percent of Indian consumers said that they would buy a brand that supports a good cause, regardless of what the good cause is, though the causes they support the most is reducing poverty (54 percent) followed by equal opportunity to education (40 percent) and protecting the environment (33 percent).

"In India, 49 percent of consumers do not know of any socially-responsible brands. However, a large majority agreed that it is important for brands and companies to set aside money for a good cause during an economic recession. Given the loyalty to socially conscious brands, companies and brands in India should look at engaging with consumers to effect enduring positive change and build a deeper relationship with them. When brands act as 'citizen brands,' contributing to community and society beyond their functional benefits, 'doing good' can translate to 'doing well' and the brand can forge a stronger emotional bond with its consumers," VanderMolen added.

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