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Indian Consumer Most Sustainable or Predictable, Finds National Geographic Greendex 2014 Survey

A new global analysis released by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan shows that India and China consumers are on top of the trend showing the most sustainable consumers around the world.

The study which was planned to study the environmental concerns showed the awareness is fast growing, also found the consistency of behavour among the Indian and Chinese consumers as the most dependable and predictable or sustainable, a feature that will help manufacturers plan their business plans. In comparison, U.S. consumers’ behavior still ranks as the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of the study in 2008.

The National Geographic’s Greendex, a comprehensive measure of consumer behavior in 65 areas related to housing, transportation, food and consumer goods, shows that sustainable consumer behavior has only grown slowly overall.

Results of the 2014 Greendex, a collaboration between National Geographic and research consultancy GlobeScan, were released on Thursday in Boston at the Sustainable Brands New Metrics ’14. Greendex 2014 surveyed 18,000 consumers in 18 countries and is the fifth one since 2008.

Greendex2014 Findings on Indian Consumer:

greendex2014Top-scoring consumers of the 2014 Greendex study are in the developing economies of India and China, followed by consumers in South Korea, Brazil and Argentina. Indian and Chinese consumers also scored highest in 2012.

Indians’ Greendex score “has increased very considerably since 2012 and they remain in 1st place overall. Their Housing score has increased greatly, and their Food score has also increased. Their Transportation score has also seen a modest increase,” said the study.

Since 2012, there has been an increase in the proportion of Indians who try to buy things “used” or pre-owned rather than brand new. Indians are the most likely of the consumers in the 18 countries surveyed to say they prefer disposable household products rather than things they need to wash and reuse. This preference has increased since 2012.

Here are some of the Findings about Indian Consumers by Greendex 2014:

Indians are among the least frequent consumers of imported foods, and consumption of such foods has decreased since 2009. They are among of the most frequent consumers of self-grown food.

They are much less likely to consume beef or pork than are consumers in the other countries surveyed. Indians are among the most frequent consumers of fruits and vegetables.

There has been a notable decrease in the proportion of Indians who report having home heating. However, more than half of Indian consumers state they have air conditioning in their homes, as they did in 2012.

Indians are among the most likely to purchase “green” electricity, and their likelihood of doing this has increased since 2010. They are also among the most likely to use solar energy to heat their running water.

After decreases in 2012, Indian consumers have again become more likely to claim they minimize their use of fresh water and wash their laundry in cold water to save energy.

Indians are the least likely of the surveyed groups to own, rent or lease a car or truck. Of Indian consumers who drive motor vehicles, the highest proportion drives a motorcycle or motor scooter.

Compared to consumers in the other countries surveyed, Indians are among the most frequent users of local public transportation, and report the most frequent use of trains and airplanes.

Otherwise, Indians are also among the most likely consumers to feel that the extra cost of environmentally friendly products is not worth it to them, and are the most likely to think that they do not work well.

World Highlights:

On environment, the environmental concern has increased since 2012: Sixty-one percent of consumers globally now say they are very concerned about environmental problems compared with 56 percent in 2012.

Compared to the study’s 2008 baseline, sustainable consumer behavior has increased in nearly every country tracked since the first survey, suggesting consumer behavior across the world is improving, albeit slowly.

Environmentally friendly behavior has increased in nine of the 17 countries that were surveyed in 2012: Argentina, Australia, Hungary, India, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, South Korea and Great Britain. However, sustainable behavior decreased since 2012 among consumers in five countries: Canada, China, Germany, Japan and the United States.

More and more consumers are embracing local and organic foods and lightening their environmental footprint in the food category. Nearly all consumers believe that we need to change the way we produce and consume food in order to feed a growing population, and many say it is very important to know how and where their food is produced. Yet, relatively few people report that they do.

Consumers are anxious about climate change: Fifty-one percent across the 18 countries surveyed in 2014 believe that global warming will negatively affect their own lives, up in seven surveyed countries from 2012 and down in none.

Furthermore, 65 percent of consumers overall believe that most scientists are convinced that human activity causes climate change.

Terry Garcia of the National Geographic Society said: “The 2014 Greendex provides increased insight into what the drivers are for consumers to engage in more environmentally friendly behavior, such as peer influence and helping people see the connections between humans and the environment. This year we have seen that, although change is coming slowly, consumers are showing positive change in their attitudes about sustainable food choices; this data can help inform behavior change in other sectors.”

Eric Whan, who directs the Greendex project at GlobeScan, added, “It’s vital that all actors work together to enable substantive reductions in the environmental impact of consumer behavior around the world. The research underlines that consumers need more encouragement from peers as well as enablement and better leadership from companies and governments to lighten their own impact. That’s why the Greendex is so important.”

The Greendex was launched in 2008 to inform consumers worldwide has explored individual consumer behavior and material lifestyle of 18,000 consumers in 18 countries around the world (14 in 2008), and measures the specific choices and behaviors that contribute most to a consumer’s overall ecological impact — for example, the type of car you drive, the way you heat your house, the kind of foods you eat.

A complex algorithm is applied to results to generate an index score — a Greendex score — for each individual respondent, which reflects the relative environmental impact of his or her consumption patterns. Individual scores are averaged to create a mean score for consumers in each country. Combined with questions about cultural drivers and perceptions, the Greendex gives a comprehensive view into the state of sustainable consumption.

The 18 countries surveyed in the 2014 Greendex were Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United States. Added since the 2012 Greendex was South Africa, expanding the survey’s reach into the African continent.

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