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SUSTAINABILITY CONTINUES TO GAIN MOMENTUM AMONG SINGAPOREANS AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN CONSUMERS

·         Singaporeans consider brand trust, health and wellness and products that are fresh, natural, and/or organic ingredients as their top three sustainability factors during product purchase

·         Southeast Asian consumers are the most socially-conscious consumers globally

·         Brands committed to sustainability grew more than 4% globally, outstripping non-socially committed brands 

Singapore – October 16, 2015 – The number of consumers who are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services continue to rise, according to the latest Global Corporate Sustainability Report released today by global performance measurement company, Nielsen.  Southeast Asian consumers are the most willing globally to pay more for sustainable products, with eight in 10 consumers (80%) preferring to buy from companies who are committed towards creating a positive social and environmental impact, as compared to Asia Pacific (76%), Middle East/Africa (75%) and Latin America (71%), Europe (51%), and North America (44%).

In Singapore, consumers are displaying a keen commitment to be socially responsible with a significant 6% increase in 2015 (49% in 2014 versus 55% in 2015). Vietnamese and Filipino consumers are the most socially-conscious, with 86% of respondents from Vietnam and 83% from the Philippines stating their willingness to pay extra for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact (up 12 points and four points respectively).

“Nowadays, you will be hard-pressed to find consumers who do not show concern for environmental and societal issues,” says Connie Cheng, Head of Shopper Insights for Nielsen in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific. “In small and big ways, consumers are trying to be responsible citizens of the world, and they expect the same from corporations. Committing to sustainability might just pay off for consumer brands.”

 According to the Nielsen report, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability grew more than 4% globally in the past year, while those without grew less than 1%.

 “Integrating sustainability into their business models and objectives helps society and at the same time, raises goodwill toward their brands”, says Cheng. “Companies with strong reputations outperform others when it comes to attracting top talent, investors, community partners, and importantly, consumers.”

To gain better insight into the factors that influence consumer sentiment and purchase behavior, Nielsen polled 30,000 consumers in 60 countries across the globe for the survey. Consumers were asked how much influence factors such as the environment, packaging, price, marketing, and organic or health and wellness claims had on their consumer-goods purchase decisions.

 

SINGAPOREANS REGARD BRAND TRUST AS MOST IMPORTANT

More than five in ten Singaporeans (52%) have indicated brand trust as the most important consideration. 70% of Southeast Asian consumers also stated this as one of the top sustainability factors that influence purchasing.

“Consumer-goods brands that have already built a high level of trust with consumers would do well by evaluating where best to introduce sustainable products into the market to drive growth,” says Cheng. “Bigger global consumer-goods brands that overlook sustainability increase reputational and business risk. It leaves them vulnerable to competitors of all sizes who will seize the opportunity to build trust with the predominantly young, socially- conscious consumers looking for products that align with their values.”

 

SINGAPOREANS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Close to half of the Singaporeans (47%) have indicated health and wellness as their second key factor which influences their path to purchase.

Seven in 10 consumers (70%) in the region also noted health and wellness as a key priority. This is particularly influential in the Philippines and Vietnam – close to eight in 10 consumers in the Philippines (79%) and Vietnam (77%) say that a product’s health and wellness benefits drive their purchase decisions.

Products made with fresh, natural, and/or organic ingredients carry similar weight with consumers in the region (69%). This resonates with 43% of the respondents in Singapore and is seen as the top three sustainability factors to local consumers.

“Finding opportunities to bridge health benefits and the ingredients that support the claim is a powerful and impactful way to connect with consumers,” advises Cheng.

 

THE ENVIRONMENT MATTERS

When it comes to purchase intent, more than one quarter of Singaporeans would consider commitment to the environment (26%), the community (26%) and social value (25%) as deciding factors.

In the region, commitment to the environment matters to 57% of Southeast Asian consumers. Commitment to either social value or the consumer’s community are also important (each influencing 56% and 55% of respondents, respectively).

Retail data backs up the importance of these influencers. In 2014, 65% of total sales of consumer goods measured globally were generated by brands whose marketing conveyed commitment to social and/or environmental value.

“We are seeing a change in the hierarchy among drivers of consumer loyalty and brand performance,” observes Cheng. “Commitment to social and environmental responsibility is surpassing some of the more traditional influences for many consumers. Consumer-goods brands that fail to consider this run the risk of falling behind.”

THE INFLUENCE OF TELEVISION ADVERTISEMENTS

More than one in five Singaporeans (21%) highlight that television advertisements profiling a company’s commitment to positive social or environmental impact are influential in their path to purchase, while 18% of the respondents would try the products after seeing an ad on television.

“Brands that actively reinforce sustainability commitment must amplify and socialize their message using multiple sources and distribution channels such as third-party validation (news coverage), annual reports, affiliation with a respected non-profit or civic organization, employee volunteerism, advertising, or reporting actual work in the community on a web site,” says Cheng. “While marketing good deeds is encouraged and expected by consumers, authenticity and credibility are essential.  Care must be taken to place the emphasis on demonstrating good deeds versus self-serving promotion.”

ABOUT THE RETAIL SALES ANALYSIS

The findings from the retail sales information included in this report are collected from stores using electronic point-of-sale technology and/or teams of local field auditors. The data represents a cross-section of 1,319 brands among 13 categories (both consumable and non-consumable categories) across an average of 13 countries* for the 12-month period ending December 2014. On average, the brands measured in this study represent 73% of 2014 value sales (USD) in each country-category analyzed (private label brands were not included). Stores within Nielsen’s worldwide retail network include grocery, drug, convenience and discount retailers, who, through various cooperation arrangements, share their sales data with Nielsen.

 

ABOUT THE GLOBAL SURVEY

The Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability was conducted from February 23 to March 13, 2015, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and North America, including 504 respondents from Singapore. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6 percent. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

ABOUT NIELSEN

Nielsen N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance.  Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.

CONTACT

Andrew McCaskill, 347.331.5725, andrew.mccaskill@nielsen.com