Online shoppers want more information around sustainability

27 July 2023 Consultancy.asia 2 min. read

Greenwashing and stubbornly high prices for sustainable products are concerns in Europe and Asia, as countries around the world try to meet sustainability goals. Consumers in both regions express a desire to go green, but various obstacles remain.

A remarkable 73% of consumers worldwide said they wanted more information on how to choose eco-friendly options in online shopping.  That is according to a survey from Yonder Consulting commissioned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which polled over 14,000 people across 14 markets.

“Sustainable consumption is crucial for the environment, and in the meantime it provides a great opportunity for businesses, as well as the digital economy as a whole, to have a long-lasting development into a sustainable future for all,” said Liu Wei, Strategy Lead at Alibaba.

Online shoppers want more information around sustainability

There are differences between different markets. For example, emerging Asian markets, including the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, show the highest enthusiasm for sustainable consumption. On the other hand, the report found that Europe tends to recycle more.

The report highlights that big e-commerce platforms play a crucial role in driving this change. While Alibaba does offer a ‘carbon ledger’ tool and a low-carbon shipping option, the e-commerce sector is a major contributor to climate change and larger solutions need to be found. One report found that e-commerce contributed around 3 billion kilograms of plastic waste worldwide just last year.

To encourage sustainability, 61% of respondents suggested adjusting sustainable product prices, 55% said reducing single-use plastics is the way to go, and 47% suggested expanding product ranges.

Online shoppers want more information around sustainability

Greenwashing

While consumers want to see better solutions become available, they also do not fully trust companies. The report found that two in five consumers (38%) are skeptical of products that are labeled as sustainable. For example, around half of the consumers surveyed in Thailand, France, and Singapore said that they believed sustainable labeling was used simply to sell the same product at a higher price.

Greenwashing has been a serious issue in consumer goods market for years now, with major cases like Volkswagen’s 2015 emissions scandal (where the car maker attempted to fake emissions test) resulting in the company parting ways with over $100 million in compensations for consumers.

A lack of regulation on labeling products as ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ has even led to regulation in the European Union that aims to reign in the fakers. The European Commission found that a shocking 40% of labels that made sustainability claims in the EU were bogus. In other markets that percentage is likely to be higher.