A new survey released by DuPont revealed a growing understanding of green products among urban Chinese consumers. Seventy percent of these consumers expressed confidence in the environmental claims of green products. The findings reflect the potential for green products in the world’s largest consumer market and how this demand could help China meet its sustainability targets.
In “China Green Living Survey: Consumer Awareness and Adoption of Biobased Products,” DuPont found that the majority of Chinese consumers are likely to purchase apparel, personal care, hygiene and household products made from biobased ingredients that offer environmental benefits. These “green” products use ingredients that are composed of biological or renewable agricultural materials, rather than synthetics and are biodegradable. Since biobased ingredients, such as enzymes, often replace petroleum-based ingredients, they help reduce reliance on non-renewable resources.
While just four in 10 surveyed said they are very or somewhat familiar with green products, most urban Chinese consumers agree on the factors that make a product “green” and accept that biobased products meet the criteria. The findings also noted that higher-income Chinese consumers were more familiar with and receptive to green products as well as biobased products.
According to DuPont’s research, Chinese consumers express greater confidence that green products are better for the environment than North American consumers surveyed last year. When asked about their confidence that green products are better for the environment, 70% of Chinese consumers surveyed said they were either very or somewhat confident. A similar survey of North American consumers released in 2011 showed that 65% of Canadians and 60% of Americans were confident that green products are better for the environment.1
“The survey demonstrates a growing awareness and desire among urban Chinese consumers for green products that offer sustainability benefits,” said Jeremy Xu, vice president, global sales and applications, DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “Greater adoption of biobased products in China could help the country reduce its energy intensity and carbon emissions and advance a new era of green manufacturing.”
More than three quarters of the respondents said they would definitely or likely buy biobased products in a range of categories.
In the North American survey, about eight in 10 consumers said they would definitely or likely buy biobased products if comparable on cost and quality than non-biobased products.
DuPont’s China survey also found that consumers are more apt than not to believe that biobased ingredients improve the quality of a product. For example, more than 60% of consumers said that biobased ingredients used in personal care products, personal hygiene and detergents would make the products better.
China market ripe for biobased product growth
DuPont estimates the market in China for biobased ingredients used to make a range of commercial and industrial products is growing. Already in North America, there are more than 20,000 products made with biobased ingredients, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the BioPreferred Program to encourage the purchase and use of biobased products.
“Just like the U.S., China has the opportunity to develop and promote products made with biobased ingredients as part of a strategy to reduce petroleum consumption, increase the use of renewable resources, better manage the carbon cycle and help contribute to reducing adverse environmental impacts,” said Ron Buckhalt, program manager, BioPreferred Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Chinese consumers already can purchase a range of products made with biobased ingredients. These include detergents that clean at lower water temperatures for reduced energy use, personal care and cosmetic products that are made with naturally derived ingredients rather than synthetics. Manufacturers can respond to consumer preferences as well by utilizing biobased enzymes that reduce water and energy consumption in the manufacturing process.
About the China Green Living Survey
The research is based on face-to-face, street intercept interviews conducted July 21–Aug. 6, 2012, by Environics Research (in collaboration with N-Dynamic Market Research) with 1000 Chinese consumers in nine mainland cities—Beijing, Chengdu, Dalian, Huangshi, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Yinchuan—as well as Hong Kong.
DuPont was one of the first companies to publicly establish environmental goals more than 20 years ago and since has broadened its sustainability commitments beyond internal footprint reduction to include market-driven targets for both revenue and research and development investment. The goals are tied directly to business growth, specifically to the development of safer and environmentally improved new products for key global markets.
 The 2011 survey, Genencor Household Sustainability Index, was released by Genencor, a division of Danisco that DuPont acquired in May 2011.