WE all remember the early ad campaigns about green credentials. They were created mainly for petroleum and chemical companies. As such they were a kind of distress purchase. Polluters or those whose business carried environmental risk, had to make some form of environmental statement.
And the funny thing about well-executed advertising is that its repetition often overcomes consumer cynicism. So, for many such companies and their brands, advertising their environmental intentions built a more receptive environment with which their lobbying and other activities might flourish.
Whether you think that is right or not. WPP Companies Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland have actually been tracking consumer attitudes to green issues for 9 years.
They do it via an online survey and in 2011 sampled 9,000 respondents in eight countries. The reason I am sharing some of its findings in Africa is that those eight countries include China, India, and Brazil - developing markets much like our own and with futures inextricably intertwined with ours.
It's surprising to find that despite global economic conditions, people are more worried about the environment. But not so surprising to see that global warming is dropping down the agenda and that energy use is the biggest concern.
India stands alone as having a high concern about air pollution. One that is understandable if you have ever stood in one of India's big manufacturing cities. Consumers are increasingly interested in brands that use less energy to produce. Even though most of them believe that green products will cost them more than nongreen equivalents. Here the study makes another revelation. In developing markets, consumers say they are more prepared to pay more for green brands, than their counterparts in the developed world. To be precise, 48 per cent of Indian respondents claimed they were prepared to pay a significant green premium (between 10 and 30 per cent+). Whereas in the US 70 per cent of respondents were prepared to pay no premium or not more than 10 per cent. Now of course whether those Indian consumers act on those intentions is not known. And developing world consumers do cite two barriers to buying more green brands - choice, and price. In developing markets, technology brands are seen as having the best green credentials. Haier in China, for example. Being a Toyota driver myself, it was both a surprise and a delight to see that in Australia the motor brand Toyota has very high green credentials. Almost all consumers sampled said they wanted governments to mandate extended producer responsibility. They demand greater detail in labelling contents and clearer information on the origin of foods. But the packaging demands were loudest from the developed world. In developing countries, more people were influenced by (and believed in) green advertising. The only exception being the French, who claim to tune it out! Chinese people were the only nation to say that they thought the state of their environment was improving. But that may be from a very low point in China's industrial development. Brazilians were highly attuned to the scourge of deforestation, and 71 per cent said that 'is it environmentally conscious' was an important attribute for any brand. So there we have it. A snapshot. One that indicates, however, that green issues remain top of mind for consumers in the developing world as much as in the wealthier West. Share your thoughts with us: #HotwireOn- Brands, #BinnsOnBrands, @kabelobinns, www. hotwireprc.com, FB HotwirePRC, info@hotwireprc. com