McCann Worldgroup has released a new report offering insights on attitudes towards sustainability in the region to mark World Sustainability Day. McCann Worldgroup’s latest study- the Truth about Sustainability surveyed over 12,000 respondents globally and includes APAC markets: China, India, and Japan.
“The findings reveal that there are pronounced cultural and generational divides – both in what sustainability actually means and in how important it really is, providing opportunities to put humanity at the center of the topic,” McCann said in a release.
“Sustainability is clearly of great importance to all, and whilst it’s a complex issue, putting humanity at the center of it, allows us to understand the nuances at play and approach it holistically,” said Richard McCabe, Chief Strategy Officer, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific. “There is an opportunity for every type of company to find their role in what they can sustain and indeed an expectation for them to get behind the cause, and take action to be part of creating meaningful solutions”.
Summary of Findings
Sustainability means different things to different people
When people were asked how they define ‘sustainability,’ the #1 answer globally is that it’s about ‘protecting the planet’ (28%).
Responses in China far exceed the global average with 34% of people describing ‘protecting the Planet’ as their best understanding of the word “sustainability”. This is the highest reported figure in the APAC region and 2nd highest globally, coming only 1% behind Spain.
Furthermore, 80% of people surveyed in China said they are worried about climate change (the highest percentage globally).
But definitions of sustainability vary greatly, showing how complex the issue can be, and markets in APAC rank at the top of their very different answers.
40% of people in Japan describe ‘protecting future generations’ as their best understanding of the word “sustainability” – the highest figure reported globally for this particular response.
Whereas the number one answer in India, by a significant amount at 26%, was that they describe sustainability as ‘a way of life (collective actions)’.
While much of the global media conversation centers on the younger generation driving activism around issues of sustainability, our findings reveal that there is perhaps more urgency among older individuals.
62% of 18–24-year-olds globally say they are worried about climate change vs. 68% of 55–64- year-olds.
And interestingly, globally, more older people felt that companies should be required by law to protect and conserve nature as compared with younger people (73% of 55-64 year olds, and 69% of 45-54 year olds vs 67% of younger people aged 18-24).
“There is an opportunity for every type of company to find their role in what they can sustain and indeed an expectation for them to get behind the cause, and take action to be part of creating meaningful solutions”.
Brands should note that 38% of 18–24-year-olds say they’ve ‘bought a product solely because the brand took a stand on an issue I care about’, with that figure increasing significantly for older people – 43% of those aged between 45-54.
Attitudes vary between, not only age groups, but also parents and grandparents, versus those with no children/descendants. Findings indicate 30% of parents/grandparents globally describe ‘protecting future generations’ as their best understanding of ‘sustainability’, versus non-parents at just 21% globally.
34% of parents globally ‘constantly worry’ about climate change, compared with 30% for non- parents.
The path to a more sustainable future
When asked ‘what do you perceive to be the number one barrier to living a more sustainable life?’, 29% of respondents in Japan said ‘too expensive’ as the number one barrier. This is the highest figure globally vs the global average of 21%.
41% of respondents in India stated that they sometimes buy the cheapest option even if they know it’s bad for the environment. Again, this is the highest figure globally vs the global average of 31%, whereas only 28% of people in Japan stated that they sometimes buy the cheapest option (even if they know it’s bad for the environment). This is the lowest figure reported in APAC.
Globally, ‘plastic’ and ‘driving’ are the top two things that people report knowing ‘are bad for the environment but I keep doing/using anyway’.
However, there is desire for more action and involvement. 85% of respondents in China feel that companies should be required by law to protect and conserve nature. This is the highest figure globally (vs the global average of 67%).
Further, when responding ‘I have bought a product solely because the brand took a stand on an issue I care about’, India exceeded the global average at 45 % vs 40% globally. The highest figure globally was China with 70% of respondents stating they have bought a product solely because the brand took a stand on an issue they care about.
The full findings, and more, will be revealed at McCann Worldgroup’s upcoming “Truth about a Well World” Festival.