'Green' consumer attitudes questioned

April 12, 2012 at 4:37 PM
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LONDON, April 12 (UPI) -- Young Chinese adults say they would pay extra for products that display green credentials, but consumer behavior researchers say they are skeptical.

The Carbon Trust in London quizzed 2,800 18 to 25-year-olds from six countries on their attitudes to climate change and carbon footprints, NewScientist.com reported Thursday.

While most participants said they would buy products labeled with carbon footprints only if they cost the same as conventional products, in China 42 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay more.

"Perhaps it is the Chinese, and not the U.S. consumer, that really holds the key to unlocking the mass demand for the new low-carbon products necessary to deliver an environmentally sustainable economy," Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay said.

But some who study consumer behavior say they're not convinced.

People do not necessarily follow what they say with action, William Young of the University of Leeds said.

In 2009, Young and colleagues found 30 percent of people in the U.K. said they were very concerned about the environment, but ethically sourced foods still account for only 5 percent of the market.

Most consumers still choose products based on the price, along with other factors like brand name and appearance, Young said.

"Those factors are stronger than their green conscience."

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