Brazilians are more environmentally conscious but at a price, reports Mintel

It’s a growing concern worldwide and latest research about green lifestyles from Mintel reveals there is growing interest and favorable conditions for ‘green’ behavior in Brazil, and for products that meet these requirements. Indeed, revealing consumer sentiment on the issue, 73% of Brazilian consumers claim their individual behaviour can “really have an effect” on the world’s environment.

Furthermore, some 74% of Brazilian consumers say they are likely to consider ‘green’ factors the next time they buy large household appliances and 69% will consider ‘green’ factors when purchasing an electronic device.

However, despite this, Mintel finds Brazilians are less likely to consider environmental factors if they cost them more, with 69% claiming prices concern them more than the environment. In addition, some 73% of consumers claim “the main reason I reduce water or electricity consumption is to save money”. Furthermore, showing the importance of cost factors to today’s consumer, some 91% claim energy efficient products save money in the long run, even if they cost more to buy.

Sheila Salina, research analyst at Mintel Brazil, said: “Even when they show great concern for the environment, it seems Brazilian consumers are not prepared to accept solutions that will cost extra. Consumers are constantly bombarded with information in sustainability, increasing confusion, which makes consumers more skeptical about the claim. The most successful way to address this is to combine affordability and functionality with the use of sustainable technologies. Companies and products capable of aligning price, quality and sustainability will be best positioned to capture consumer attention and capitalize as a result.”

In addition, it seems NPD is also capitalising on consumer demand in this area. Analysis from Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows from all new CPG products launched in Brazil during 2012, a quarter (24%) of launches had an ethical or ecological claim. This percentage is almost identical to the proportion of products with ethical claims launched in the US (23%) in 2012; but lower than the proportion of launches developed in the same category of products in the UK (31%).

The research also reveals interesting attitudes when it comes to recycling. Despite 94% of Brazilian consumers saying they would recycle more if they had selective collection in their area, half (50%) of consumers say “I do not know why it is important to recycle”. In comparison,  73% of respondents in the UK say they make a conscious effort to recycle (Mintel, 2012), while in the US a similar percentage (72%) say they separate their trash (Mintel, 2011).

“The disconnect between Brazilian consumers and their actions surrounding sustainability appears to be because they don’t have many real examples of its benefit and how it can directly impact their lives. Further publicity or information about the importance of recycling and real results that can be achieved from it will help prompt changes in behavior,” said Salina.

Meanwhile, it seems consumers in Brazil do believe in the potential of companies to generate social and environmental changes in the communities in which they operate, with a massive 91% claiming green actions from companies can really have an effect on the world’s environment. However, they believe these don’t go beyond a strategy of ‘green washing,’ with 81% of people saying they don’t believe companies are as green as they say they are.

The Mintel report reveals Brazilians tend to have a varied opinion by demographic when it comes to the environmental role of companies. Higher-income groups (AB classes) seem to be more aware of environmental damage and tend to demand a more major participation from companies in this respect. Some 95% of the AB group attribute the responsibility to companies that their products and operations have a minimum impact on the environment, compared to 90% of the DE group. When the country regions are analysed, the centre West and the South are the areas with the highest rate of respondents (both 97%) that attribute responsibility to companies. Meanwhile, 89% of the residents of the North think in the same way.

“To conquer the concern from a high volume of consumers over ‘green washing’ in corporate CSR, the solution seems to lie in offering them concrete proof that CSR plans are effective. Companies that are more explanatory, and give more details about their measurements and claims, and how effectively they help the environment stand to benefit, as many people don’t know much about CSR and the consequences arising from it,“ said Salina.

The report also reveals some interesting green behavior between genders. For example, more men than women consider ‘green’ factors when buying a car (67% vs. 60%, respectively) and more women think about the environment when buying a beauty/personal care product (71% vs 61% of men) or food/drink for the home (73% vs. 68% of men).