Source: StarBiz, Tuesday 13 March 2012

Malaysian Shoppers are All Heart

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian shoppers rank high in terms of shopping with a conscience, ahead of developed countries like Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

According to the latest MasterCard survey on ethical spending, Malaysians would pay more for items that are environmentally friendly (58%), based on fair trade principles (51%), or where a percentage of the item was donated to a good cause (55%).

The survey was conducted via online interviews between Dec 5, 2011 and Jan 6, 2012 and involved 12,500 consumers from 25 markets across the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Overall, the survey found that conscience shopping across South-East Asia remains strong, similar to trends over the past three years.

“The latest MasterCard survey demonstrates that consumers are conscious and wary of the current economic climate, and they continue to display a sense of responsibility about the products they are purchasing,” said Georgette Tan, MasterCard Worldwide's group head of communications for Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

Countries with similar trends to Malaysia are Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and China.

However, between 2009 and 2011 the only increase in consumers willing to pay for a percentage of sale donated to a good cause was South Korea (7%), while drops were recorded in China (minus 25%), Taiwan (minus 19%), Japan (minus 18%), Hong Kong (minus 15%) and Singapore (minus 11%).

The survey also revealed that green may no longer be the in-thing as shoppers were less willing to pay for environmentally friendly products in 2011 compared with 2009.

Japan (minus 26%), China (minus 23%) and Hong Kong (minus 19%) all showed less inclination towards eco-shopping. Taiwan in particular went from 71% of respondents in 2009 saying they would purchase items because they are environmentally friendly, to 40% in 2011.

South Korea (18%) recorded the largest rise for willingness to pay for items based on fair trade principles, with Thailand (4%) the only other country to see an overall increase since 2009. Thailand (94%) consistently continues to have the highest proportion of respondents who based their purchases on fair trade principles, above China (88%) and Indonesia (87%), with Australia (37%) and New Zealand (36%) ranked lowest.

Japan, which was heavily impacted by natural disasters in 2011, saw a rise in terms of charity donations 42%, indicating they were contributing to a charity as opposed to 20% in 2010. In addition, 35% said they were contributing more to charity this year compared with 2010.

Thailand, which was affected by the recent flooding, also shows more willingness to donate, with 31% saying they would contribute more this year than last year.

Among those surveyed, affinity towards social organisations that deal with children's health and education appeared to be the strongest for respondents across the Asia-Pacific, and environmental organisations have risen in importance in many of the markets in the region.

In emerging markets, affinity towards social organisations that deal with poverty/starvation remained highly important.