Sustainability and attention to the environment are hot topics, not only in China: the consequences of mass industrialization and the uncontrolled exploitation of resources affect the planet and we are all afraid of the consequences.

But as often happens, the Country of the Dragon surprises us by making a sudden turn and promising to go from “one of the most polluting countries in the world” to a model of sustainability and a zero-emission country by 2060.

Thus Xi’s government took the cup of climate change in hand and made it one of the main leverage of its propaganda. A position that has very strong political interests, as it could fill the great void left by Trump’s United States and make us look to China as the country of (positive) change.

Although the zero-covid policy relies heavily on polluting industries – and in general there is a certain level of skepticism about Xi’s true intentions (for more information on the subject, see here ), Beijing’s goal remains to be increasingly sustainable, and, as often happens, the government’s objectives have started to coincide with those of its citizens .

How does all this affect Chinese consumers?

Sustainability is the hottest topic of the moment.

Many Chinese citizens are making changes to their lifestyle, driven by the government’s commitment in this regard. Never before have buyers expected companies to offer products and services with environmental compatibility and the right price in mind.

A February survey 2021 by Wunderman Thompson gives us some tangible data on this:

In China, 86% of adult internet users said they are willing to contribute at least 0.5% of their annual salary to the cause.

The survey also talks about regeneration, that is the idea not only of minimizing the human impact on the environment, but also of proactively giving back to the ecosystem. More respondents in China than in other countries believe that companies need to promote remanufacturing for such efforts to be successful. Of all respondents to the survey, 86% said they expect companies to play their part in solving big challenges like climate change or social justice.

Notably, nearly two-thirds of respondents in China said they bought a new brand or product because of its sustainability practices, while only 42% said they regularly opt for more expensive but greener alternatives. Wunderman Thompson’s survey also shows that the price of products is a determining factor. Among the respondents who said they do not live sustainably, the cost of the products is one of the main reasons.

As an age group, it is young people under the age of 35, particularly those in affluent cities in China, who show the most attention to the environment.

For businesses, the implications are huge, with China being the second largest retail market in the world. 

The trend is towards eco-friendly products. There is a growing market for plant-based protein products. Consumers are recognizing that plant-based diets are key to addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.

Many of China’s leading Internet companies, including Ant Group affiliated with Alibaba , Baidu , JD.com and < b> Suning , they have already announced targets and implemented programs to reduce emissions.

Nike announced in September that it has joined the Green Energy Initiative of Chinese fintech giant Ant Group and has launched an official mini program on the digital platform Alipay to encourage more consumers to recycle worn shoes.

Esquel Group , headquartered in Hong Kong, one of the largest apparel manufacturers in the world, has developed waterless dyeing technology that also reduces energy consumption by nearly 40%.

Budweiser established a China Innovation Hub in 2020 to promote sustainable innovation, including its work with Vegatex on barley-based leather.

Tmall partnered with brands including Max Mara and Timberland in March to promote sustainable fashion trends and raise consumer awareness.

We could go on forever, the point is that all the big brands are striving to give Chinese consumers what they ask for: more sustainable products.

Greenwash or the beginning of a new sustainable era? To posterity the arduous sentence.

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