According to a recent report released by Havas Media and MPG's Brand Sustainable Futures (BSF), Indian consumers are more likely to consider environmental and social aspects while making purchase decisions than any among the nine nations surveyed.
The analysis also shows that while Indian consumers are one of the most receptive consumers globally, Indian companies remain ambivalent about the relevance of sustainability on their brands.
It has also been seen that despite environment being a primary concern for Indian consumers, the biggest driver of BSF Quotient ranking for top brands is marketplace responsibility.
Besides this, it has been observed that television advertising is being considered as the top media channel for communicating CSR initiatives, followed by newspapers and magazines, in India.
The survey also revealed that digital media and indirect communication channels (comments from employees, friends and family, key opinion leaders, experts, NGOs and certification labels) are increasingly becoming pivotal platforms for brands when it comes to sustainability.
However, unlike global findings, results in India show that company communications and corporate events would be sufficient to make consumers believe in a company's commitment to the environment and society. Across most other countries, independent certification marks, word of mouth and comments from experts would be required.
Some of the major trends have been pointed out in the report. The first trend that was spotted was that environmental pollution is a major issue of concern for Indian consumers. The proportion of those 'very concerned' about it is well over half (57 per cent), compared to just over a third (35 per cent) of global respondents.
Secondly, the main barrier to buying responsible products in India is availability and lack of information.
The third trend that was noticed was that at 25 per cent, India also contains the largest proportion of consumers who feel highly concerned about sustainability issues and also feel powerless in their ability to do anything about them. Brand Sustainable Futures defines this group as 'Hostages'.
Fourthly, it was noted that Indian consumers appear to have higher than average expectations of companies in terms of sustainable endeavours and there is a stronger feeling of empowerment. About 70 per cent feel that their actions can make a company more responsible, compared to 57 per cent on average.
The fifth trend spotted was that Indian consumers are also more active in recommending products/brands (97 per cent compared to 90 per cent globally), rewarding responsible companies (88 per cent compared to 80 per cent globally) and in particular, when it comes to seeking out information about corporate behaviour (84 per cent compared to 63 per cent globally).
Finally, the last trend was that appreciation for companies that partner with charities or NGOs has increased since 2009, with 83 per cent appreciating such associations this year compared to 73 per cent in 2009.
Brand Sustainable Futures helps companies build strong and meaningful brands using sustainability as a key platform. The model evaluates, tracks and compares how a firm's sustainable endeavours resonate with consumers and the consequent impact they make on its brand equity.
The research covered more than 30,000 consumers in nine countries including Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US. Interestingly, it explored 150 brands across 10 different industries.