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Shoppers ‘will pay premium for sustainable products’

60% of GCC consumers are concerned about sustainability, but only 12% of companies have set a net zero target Dubai Tourism
More than half of GCC consumers are concerned about sustainability, but only 12% of companies have set a net zero target
  • Survey reveals eco worries
  • 60% in GCC will pay more
  • Lack of trust in corporations

Consumers are willing to pay more to be sustainable, a study has found, even as most businesses remain far from meeting their environmental goals. 

A survey of 23,000 global consumers by management consultancy Bain & Company found that 64 percent of respondents reported high levels of concern about the environment.

Most said their worries had intensified over the past two years, driven by extreme weather events. 

The report does not include breakdowns by region, but Bain said the GCC figure for high levels of concern was “more than 60 percent”.

Half of the survey respondents said sustainability was one of their top four criteria when shopping – and they are willing to pay more for sustainable goods.

However, people who want to be ethical consumers often run into challenges.  

Shoppers in the US are willing to pay 11 percent more on average, the study found. However, the average premium for products marketed as “sustainable” in the US is 28 percent. 

Consumers may also be basing decisions on misconceptions. When asked to determine which of two given products generated higher carbon emissions, survey respondents were wrong or did not know 75 percent of the time. 

A lack of faith in corporations compounds the issue. Bain reported that just 28 percent of consumers trust large corporations to create genuinely sustainable products, compared to 45 percent who trust small independents.

Bain also surveyed business leaders around the world, finding that 75 percent believe they have not embedded sustainability well into their operations.

In the Mena region, just 12 percent of businesses have committed to setting net zero targets, according to a separate report last month by Bain and the World Economic Forum. 

Even fewer – 6 percent – had laid out “clear roadmaps” for achieving such goals, the study found. 

Earlier this month, Kuwaiti logistics company Agility found that the 17 countries in the Middle East and Africa are “relative latecomers” to sustainable development, in terms of progress on sustainability strategies, programmes and investments. 

Agility’s Environmental Sustainability Scorecard named South Africa, the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as the countries doing the most to combat climate change.

Qatar came 10th, Bahrain 13th and Oman 16th.

Ahead of Cop28 in the UAE, almost half (49 percent) of businesses in the Middle East and 82 percent in Africa are “not aware” of the United Nations-led process nations are using to monitor global climate action, Agility added.

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