The weekly magazine Valor Econômico published the results of a survey which compares 16 major cities in Latin America.
Increasingly “green” in theory, but in practice Brazil remains only a bit “green”. In one year, the percentage of residents of large cities that have heard of global warming has increased from 68% to 92%, an increase driven mainly by low-income people. But for more than 70% of the population their concern with the environment does not translate into actions. Prices are an obstacle to purchase more “green” and the Brazilians view companies advertising on the subject with scepticism.
The findings are part of a study on “green consumption” conducted by research firm Kantar Worldpanel with 9,000 families in 16 major cities in Latin America in September this year. In Brazil the survey was conducted in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Compared to consumers in neighbouring countries, São Paulo and Rio showed the lowest degree of “green consciousness”, according to a questionnaire with 17 questions involving attitudes and car use, energy and fresh food.
Doesn’t it seem contradictory, given the significant growth of people with information on the subject? It is. “At the same time they realize the importance of more sustainable consumption, the Brazilians are having access to more consumer goods, many bought their first car, they had more electro and electronic equipment in their houses – which led to higher consumption of energy and an increase of garbage,” says Carlos Stumps, chairman of Kantar in Brazil.
It is a paradox related to the accelerated growth of the economy. In absolute terms, being ‘green’ is consuming more simply. There is an obvious tension with the economic growth. No wonder that countries where the population’s purchasing power is lower, such as Bolivia, have shown higher rates of sustainable attitudes. Moreover, for many Brazilians the solution of social problems (poverty, hunger and education) should be given priority over environmental causes. The index of consumers identified with this profile (“green society” in the definition of the report) is 27% in Brazil, the largest in Latin America.
Still, the advance of concern for the environment is clear and the future points to more concrete actions in that direction. In São Paulo and Rio, 73% of consumers answered “yes” when asked if they would accept to pay more for products that are environmental friendly. Of these, 31% said they already do so. Another 33% said their budget does not allow for this choice and 9% claimed that they can’t find this type of merchandise at retail stores they attend.
Given this, one of the ways the study suggests is that companies also develop ‘green’ versions for its second brand, and not only for the “premium” category.
Besides the price on the shelf, another point needs attention from manufacturers of consumer goods: the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns. Many consumers don’t believe in the sustainability image purveyed by companies, both in Latin America (39%) and Brazil (36%). Among Latin Americans in general, 35% find it hard to believe as they don’t see the results of the actions reported. Only 26% trust the messages transmitted. “With the Internet and the increase of information sources, consumers are more critical,” notes the report.
“There must be consistency between what the company says and how it acts.” This means adopting sustainable procedures in all stages – from production, through the relationship with suppliers to the packaging and distribution. The awareness of the consumer will only grow. “Companies will be forced to be sustainable, if not, the consumer will not accept it.”