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Survey: Majority of APAC luxury consumers reduce support of brands ignoring sustainability

Survey: Majority of APAC luxury consumers reduce support of brands ignoring sustainability

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A majority of APAC luxury consumers would reduce their support of brands that neglect environmental sustainability, a survey found.  

The comprehensive study titled Navigating a Greener Future” was conducted in August 2023 by Hong Kong-based market research firm inspiring-i and commissioned by luxury and sustainable packaging specialist Delta Global.   

The study surveyed over 2,000 luxury consumers from Gen Z to Gen X (ages 18–55) across Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and mainland China. It delved into the impact of sustainability on luxury consumers’ purchasing behaviours – particularly among Gen Z and Millennials, who will emerge as the biggest luxury consumers by 2030. 

The study revealed that 92% of APAC luxury consumers would stop buying, buy less or reconsider buying from brands that do not care about sustainability and 27% said they would stop buying from these brands altogether. Whilst still buying less, fewer Hong Kong consumers relative to the other markets would cease purchasing (14%). 

In contrast, the survey revealed that APAC luxury consumers look favourably on brands that prioritise environmental sustainability, with more than two-thirds saying they would buy more from these brands.  

This number was the highest amongst Gen Z customers, of whom three-quarters would increase the amount they purchase to show their support. On average, APAC customers would pay up to 21% more for brands prioritising environmental sustainability, with Gen Z customers saying they would pay a premium of up to 28%. 

Luxury brands that create excessive waste drive consumers away

When it comes to environmentally sustainable practices, it is critical to understand what drives consumers away. Luxury customers across APAC identified a lack of transparency around sustainability initiatives (59%) as their biggest turn-off, followed closely by non-sustainable packaging and the creation of excessive waste (both 58%), according to the survey. 

The survey also found that 88% of APAC luxury consumers said they would either stop buying from, or spend less on a luxury brand that creates excessive waste with Southeast Asia being one of the markets with greater agreement. Additionally, 93% said they would be more likely to purchase from a luxury brand offering a more sustainable alternative to their desired product.  

When asked about non-sustainable packaging practices, luxury consumers across APAC agreed that excess layers of packaging (39%) were the most irritating. This was closely followed by excessive use of plastic (32%) and the use of non-recyclable or non-biodegradable materials (29%).  

Meanwhile, 91% of APAC customers wished luxury brands would stop using plastic wrap in their packaging and 90% of luxury Chinese customers agreed that the use of plastic was not representative of a luxury brand.  Critically, over 80% of APAC luxury consumers said that they would consider switching to another luxury brand that offers a similar product but uses less packaging. 

Sustainability as part of a brand's core values

The survey also found that APAC luxury customers considered a brand’s values, real-world impact and sustainability initiatives to be just as important as the brand name when making purchasing decisions.  

They also cited sustainable manufacturing practices (95%), the use of more recycled, sustainable, and naturally harvested materials (94%) and a commitment to carbon footprint reduction (93%) as the most important sustainability initiatives for luxury brands.  

A majority of APAC luxury customers surveyed said they wished to see their favourite luxury brands do more regarding sustainability. The top three call outs were: more accessible green initiatives (62%), which was favoured in particular by mainland Chinese consumers; more sustainable supply chain practices / manufacturing processes (62%), which was a key call out for Millennials; and the use of more sustainable materials (61%). 

The majority of respondents in the region were also willing to support or spend more on luxury brands that actively promote and communicate their sustainability efforts (93%). Additionally, 97% of APAC customers surveyed said they would recommend a luxury brand that actively promotes sustainability. 

91% of the luxury consumers surveyed in APAC want to see brands have initiatives in place to encourage fashion circularity. 86% said they were more open to the idea of buying pre-loved luxury goods, with over half (57%) already buying or selling luxury pre-loved items in the past three years. The trend is most prevalent in Southeast Asia (72%) and among Gen Z consumers (67%). 

“Luxury customers in APAC are increasingly considering brand values and a company’s real-world impact in their purchasing decisions. With the survey bringing to light luxury consumers’ unquestionable desire for more knowledge about their favourite brands’ sustainability practices, businesses need to prioritise getting this information out and through the right channels and touchpoints to ensure their messages are heard loud and clear,” said Robert Lockyer, founder and chief client officer of Delta Global.  

Whilst brands may harbour concerns about communicating their sustainability efforts in case they fall short of consumers’ expectations, failing to communicate at all, as the research points out, carries a huge opportunity cost and may fail to appeal to the next generation of luxury consumers”, he added. 

Given that shopping and consumption are here to stay, brands are in a unique position to drive positive change, said Lockyer. “Implementing sustainability practices is an important part of the process, and one that requires unwavering commitment as well as continuous improvement. It’s a mistake for brands to try and go from zero to hero and do everything at once. Instead, they should commit to an authentic strategy that is in line with the brands’ values and take small but meaningful steps to move the brand forward,” he added. 

Related articles:

Carlsberg pushes sustainability efforts with paper beer bottle
Sunway Putra Mall reinforces commitment to sustainability with textile Recycle Corner
Temasek puts a twist to typical convenience store as part of sustainability efforts

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