More consumers consider environment when buying
But most focus on immediate concerns
Conscious consumption is about making purchase decisions based not only on product quality, price, and service, but also on a brand’s commitment to a constellation of social issues. It is a global phenomenon, most prevalent in relatively prosperous societies where consumers have the time and the means to worry about more than subsistence.
The trend is beginning to appear in India among more urban, educated, and wealthy individuals. Their concern seems limited to the environment so far, and does not often include other social issues, such as working conditions along the supply chain.
The conscious consumption trend is less of a factor for rural Indians, not only because of high levels of poverty, but also because in many ways rural Indians already practice conscious consumption, living as they do in close contact with the environment and depending on it for their livelihoods.
Young people are especially represented among Indian conscious consumers. Young entrepreneurs have launched startups in recycling, renewable energy, and waste management. A brand’s commitment to environmental responsibility may influence consumers like these who prefer brands that share their values.
Although most Indians may not consider social issues when purchasing, many are aware of the commitment various brands have made to the improvement of living standards in India. Indian law requires mid-size and large companies to engage in corporate social responsibility, which impacts brand and corporate reputation.
It is likely that more Indians will become conscious consumers over time. For now, the prevalent attitude seems to be recognition that the environment needs protection, combined with resentment that India, and other developing economies, are being asked to help fix problems they did not create.