Synovate Unveils Results from Inaugural Global Green Habits Study

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Synovate was acquired by Ipsos in October 2011. The research discussed in this press release was conducted prior to the acquisition, using Synovate’s research policies and methodologies.

Greater China - At the recent lianghui in Beijing, the Chinese government has approved a range of environmental protection measures — To what extent are consumers making similarly eco-friendly commitments?

A new study from global market research firm Synovate on green behaviour shows that men and women in mainland China show similarity in their green habits, while overall women and older consumers in Hong Kong and around the world are more environmentally conscious than their male and younger counterparts.

Synovate interviewed approximately 23,000 people across 28 markets as part of its ongoing Global Trends study: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, UAE, UK and USA. Respondents were asked about their recycling habits, purchase of ecological products and purchase of organic foods.

Let's recycle

The Synovate study found that 39% of mainland Chinese respondents have recycled at home in the past week. In contrast to global trends, there is little difference in recycling habits by gender, with 38% of men and 41% of women indicating they had recycled. Older consumers (aged 56-65) also recycle more than the younger segment (aged 16-25): 41% of older consumers have recycled versus 37% of younger consumers.

While in Hong Kong, women are shown more likely to recycle than men. Sixty-one percent of women compared to 43% of men in Hong Kong have recycled in the past week. Furthermore, there is a marked difference between the number of older (aged 56-65) versus younger consumers (aged 16-25) who indicated they have recycled (59% vs. 37%).

"A number of green behaviours, such as choosing which products to purchase, take place at the household level. Women and older consumers, often the household decisions makers, therefore have greater opportunities and are more likely to exercise such green habits," said Roland Leung, Managing Director of Emerging Industries for Greater China at Synovate. "In markets like mainland China, however, where overall green awareness is still nascent, incidence of participation in green behaviour tends to be low across all demographic segments."

From the study's findings, consumers in Hong Kong are recycling more than those in mainland China (52% vs. 39%), though both markets are ranked lower in being green compared to respondents in Canada (88% have recycled waste at home in the past week, top market found in this study for recycling), South Korea (86%) and Spain (84%).

"Hong Kong has had a late start in promoting waste recycling compared to some of the Western markets. While in mainland China, much of the population seems to be just getting familiar with this concept, hence the incidence of recycling is lower," continued Leung. "Legislations that encourage green behaviour will further promote and create a habit of being green in Hong Kong consumers. While in mainland China, building the infrastructure to facilitate green behaviour — for example having easily accessible recycling bins for plastic, paper and metal — and raising green awareness levels will go a long way."

Within the BRIC countries, mainland China leads the group with more than twice as many consumers in China (39%) having recycled in the past week than in India (15%) and Russia (10%). In Brazil, just under a third of respondents (30%) indicated they had recycled in the past week.

Buy green

One quarter of mainland Chinese respondents and just over a fifth (21%) in Hong Kong have purchased organic products in the past week. In mainland China, findings similar to recycling habits can be seen where men (25%) and women (24%) are equally likely to have purchased organic products. In Hong Kong, it tends to be the women (26%) buying organic rather than the men (16%).

Younger mainland China consumers purchase more organic products than their older counterparts (22% vs. 17%). In Hong Kong, it is the older consumers who lead in making organic purchases, with 31% of those aged 55-65 reporting they bought organic products in the past week, almost double the number of those aged 16-25 (16%).

Steve Garton, Managing Director of Media for Greater China at Synovate, provided his observations on ways beyond those explored in this survey in which individuals and corporations can look to make a positive impact to the environment: "Cutting power consumption through energy efficient lighting, turning off devices and lights before leaving the office, recycling and reusing paper and limiting travel, are all easy to implement green practices. With Earth Day coming up next month, the need to enact green changes in behaviour is all the more salient."

Implications for companies

"Beyond the scope of this study, consumers in different markets are likely taking all sorts of actions to be more environmentally friendly. Brands need to consider and understand what being 'actively green' means at the local level in order for them to be relevant in their communications on this issue and in their respective product and service offerings as relevant.

"For example, findings in Hong Kong suggest that women and older consumers should be the prime target audience for green promotions. However does that mean promotional efforts should ignore their male and younger counterparts? There are some great opportunities for marketers and companies as going green is everyone's responsibility and it takes a group effort to make a sizeable impact," said Leung.

About the survey

These survey results were taken from Synovate's Global Trends survey, an international research study that monitors and measures consumers' values and attitudes on a variety of topics and their impact on trends and other emerging insights. The survey asked respondents a series of questions about their recycling habits, purchase of ecological products and purchase of organic foods, as well as their general beliefs on life, in order to also determine if there was a correlation between those beliefs and green behaviour.

This study was conducted from July to September 2010 with people aged 16 to 65 years old. The chart below includes the markets that fielded the survey, the sample size, methodology, coverage area.

(Click to enlarge image)

*Based on the population that the sample represents globally, the results have been weighted to obtain the most representative picture of consumers across the world.

Survey questions:

Which of the following activities you have done within the last week? (Yes / No / Don't know / No answer)

I have purchased ecological products
I have purchased organic food products
I have recycled waste at home
I have bought an energy saving product (bulbs, detergent, electrical appliance ...)

For more information on Synovate's Global Trends survey, visit

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services
Ipsos North America
(778) 373-5136

About Ipsos

Ipsos is a leading global survey-based market research company, owned and managed by research professionals that helps interpret, simulate, and anticipate the needs and responses of consumers, customers, and citizens around the world. Member companies assess market potential and interpret market trends to develop and test emergent or existing products or services, and build brands. They also test advertising and study audience responses to various media, and measure public opinion around the globe.

They help clients create long-term relationships with their customers, stakeholders or other constituencies. Ipsos member companies offer expertise in advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, and public affairs research, as well as forecasting, modeling, and consulting and offers a full line of custom, syndicated, omnibus, panel, and online research products and services, guided by industry experts and bolstered by advanced analytics and methodologies. The company was founded in 1975 and has been publicly traded since 1999. In 2010, Ipsos generated global revenues of €1.140 billion ($1.6 billion U.S.).

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Synovate Unveils Results from Inaugural Global Green Habits Study

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Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services,
North America