7 in 10 Consumers Globally Want to Live More Sustainably: Alibaba Survey

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7 in 10 Consumers Globally Want to Live More Sustainably: Alibaba Survey

  • Emerging Asian markets are more likely to shop with sustainability in mind

  • Affordability, convenience and information are the biggest barriers, say  consumers

Most consumers worldwide want to live more sustainable lifestyles and are looking for ways to do so, according to a report released on Thursday by Alibaba Group.

People in emerging Asian markets, such as the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia, are more willing to engage in sustainable consumption, 87% of them, than any other countries surveyed. 

These findings present an opportunity for companies to step up and support customers on their green journeys.

“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, who leads ESG strategy at Alibaba Group.

The survey, conducted by UK-headquartered researcher Yonder Consulting, polled over 14,000 people in 14 markets across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia to gauge consumers' growing appetite for sustainable products.

While over half of the survey respondents say they already act sustainably, 73% would welcome more information about making environmentally conscious online purchases.

Consumers in some regions are more willing than others, with people in emerging Asian markets (88%) most interested in sustainable online shopping compared with developed Asian markets (66%) and Europe (66%).

E-commerce platforms like Alibaba will be instrumental in driving change.

Hangzhou-based Alibaba is encouraging consumers to act sustainably through its carbon ledger tool, which helps users monitor their low-carbon shopping and awards shopping discounts to promote sustainable behavior.

Over 180 million shoppers participated in carbon emission reduction through the ledger in the year ending March 31, according to the group's Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report published on Thursday.

"ESG will continue to be one of Alibaba Group’s cornerstone strategies and the goal of creating value beyond business through ESG remains unchanged," said Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang in the report.

Overcoming Challenges

Consumer behavior is evolving, but barriers remain, as the survey highlighted.

Respondents cited a lack of convenience (53%), information (48%) and affordable options (45%) as being the biggest deterrents to buying sustainable products.

Convenience was the biggest hurdle for shoppers in Asian markets, 61% of whom said they would only make green choices if they were easily accessible.

A lack of trust in branding can also deter people from making green choices, with 38% of consumers worldwide questioning the motivations and effectiveness of products marketed as sustainable.

"We believe companies can better earn trust from consumers by addressing their own 'say-do' gap, such as being more transparent and committed with their sustainability claims, and backing their sustainable practices with data," said Liu.

While the survey highlighted challenges, it also presented ways companies could encourage consumer sustainability. 

Respondents say adjusting the price of sustainable products (61%), reducing single-use plastics and packaging (55%) and broadening product ranges and services (47%) are the top three ways businesses could make a difference.

For its part, Alibaba has been working to reduce its environmental impact and recently reported a 12.9% decrease in emissions from its direct operations during the 2023 fiscal year.

Find out more about sustainability at Alibaba

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