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Scale up market pull: Shifting private consumer behaviour

How to leverage middle class engagement



Why shifting private consumer behaviour is important?

Especially growing middle class consumers can be an important leverage point in creating demand for eco and social innovations. Therefore, it is utterly important for all key actors (policy, business, civil society) to support informed consumer choices (during purchase, use and disposal). Common barriers include price, lack of information, low awareness and knowledge and poor accessibility.


What did we aim at?

Providing an overview of barriers and motivators for responsible consumption behaviour, among middle class consumers in MENA region and investigating the concrete role of business, civil society and policy supporting consumers to make informed choices. 

 


Which are the barriers and motivators?

Let's focus on the barriers and motivators, thanks to the following speakers:

· Ian Fenn, Sustainable Consumption Project Coordinator, Consumers International
· Najib Saab, Secretary General, Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED)
· Giorgio Maritan, Foro de Marcas Renombradas Españolas and ETHIIC Sustainable Lifestyles Network
· Abdullah Bdeir, Jordan Green Building Council & Green Affordable Housing Initiative

This session has been moderated by: Moderator: Charlie Mathews, Director of Business Development at Collective Responsibility


Ian Fenn, Sustainable Consumption Project Coordinator, Consumers International

Increasingly consumers want products that support their values and they need more information. The demand is there for sustainable consumption. Consumers value brands and products with a strong potential for sustainability. There is lack of information but at the same time too much information with ecolabels. There is also a problem of trust towards companies and the government. However the trust network among consumers is growing. There is also a lack of policy guidance.

Consumers also need to be informed on how products affect the rest of their lifestyles.

Consumers in many cases know what they want to do but take no actions

There are also big companies taking big actions such as for example Patagonia that says “don’t buy staff unless you need it? and they have tools to repair what has been broken to make it last longer.

A tool within the 10YFP is the Consumer Information Programme to provide more reliable information for consumers. 

“Increasingly consumers want products that support their values and they need more information… Consumers also need to be informed on how products affect the rest of their lifestyles.?  Ian Fenn, Consumers International

Najib Saab, Secretary General, Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED)

AFED publishes every year an “Annual report of the state of the Arab environment? covering 22 countries: These reports focus on environmental challenges and issues such as water, impact on climate change, ecological footprint, green economy, sustainable energy, food security…

From these reports it is clear that whatever we do it is not possible to solve the problems related to natural resources by just changing production patterns. For this the report for 2015 focuses on Sustainable Consumption. It has been proved in economic terms that it is more profitable (costs half) to produce more efficiently than to produce more.

Consumers are part of the solution and changes cannot be achieved without the involvement of consumers.

Some of the results from the report indicate as follows:

- Interviewed people wanted to pay more for water and energy if it is compensated by improved social services (education, health, pensions…).

- People accepted to change consumer habits if it implies improvements for the environment.

- Usually what is better for health is better for the environment. Since people are more worried about health it is the way to deal with environmental issues.

- Efficiency is the main reason when purchasing electrical appliances.

- 72% answered that environment has become worse during the last years.

- In Tunisia for example 82% of the people think that the government does not bring solutions. While in Lebanon 95% and in Libya 100%.

- In richer countries people feel that the environment has not gotten worse.

- The main 3 environmental challenges identified by interviewees were: waste management, traffic congestion, and water and energy.

- 88% of the people prefer locally produced food. However in poor countries they do not trust local products and they prefer to import.

 

Alternative products and practices can only grow if they are made accessible to all. We must pressure governments to change at the policy level.

“Alternative products and practices can only grow if they are made accessible to all. We must pressure governments to change at the policy level.? Najib Saab, AFED

- Giorgio Maritan, Foro de Marcas Renombradas Españolas and Smart Ethic Lab Initiative (ETHIIC)

More than 60% of consumers would pay more for a product with a lesser environmental impact. This is middle class, and the number of middle class is growing, particularly in cities.

In the future cities will be the focus to develop more sustainable products. In cities there is a bigger density of Switchers.

ETHIIC: When we think about the future we need to put the consumer in the middle.  They created a network between consumers and ethical and sustainable products to be developed in key cities. They want to create a sustainability market place (avoiding green washing). The issue is to support SMEs to have a higher visibility in the market. Consumers do not know what they have around. So visibility is necessary. 

Sustainability is not consuming more but consuming better, and in many cases consuming less.

 We need to provide consumers products that give them an added value.

In the Smart City Congress: they will show sustainable products but for the consumer.

There is no sustainability if there is no return (this means that of course products must be profitable), this is why we need to agree to pay more for products for which producers make an extra effort.

“More than 60% of consumers would pay more for a product with a lesser environmental impact. This is middle class, and the number of middle class is growing, particularly in cities.? Giorgio Maritan


 

 

 

Motivators and barriers related to specific sectors (groups works)

 

Electronics

Barriers/Challenges: Quick upgrade of electronics, lack of legal framework warranties, cheap short life EEE, unknown hazardous compounds and exposure, transboundary movement, components for repair are missing …

Motivators; tax reduction for recycled products, tax reduction for ecolabel products, knowledge of problem …

Key stakeholders: Academia (awareness to consumers), informal sector (reparability to bring back to consumers) …

Possible solutions: Extended producer responsibility, eco-design for recyclability, promotion of local used products …

Initiatives: EU directive, the story of electronics, bio-tonner in Lebanon …

Next steps: national workshops with best practices, “cleaning house in the Mediterranean?, Sustainable Public Procurement …

 

Food consumption

Much more concerned about fundamental questions. How to give consumers a responsibility concerning what they do. A legislation that enables people to create small scale economic ecosystems where they can take responsibilities on the way the consume, might be the better way to go.

Barriers: lack of education, lack of options,

Motivators: simplicity of green product consumption, the relation with health

Stakeholders: universities, schools, the consumers, the public sector, intermediaries,

Solutions: legislation to promote sustainable and local consumption, the collective consumption,

Initiatives: consumer associations,

Collaborations: exchange of experiences, sharing resources, ideas and information

 

Textiles and clothing

Barriers: no availability of technologies in developing countries, copyright issues (no legal enforcement on it), pricing (a plus is added for the extra effort) …

Motivators: Ethics, responsibility, job creation …

Solutions: awareness in schools rather than leaving it to private decisions, providing financial facilities …

Initiatives: Zero Kilometer, developing certification for the Switchers (under SwitchMed umbrella), developing government regulations for these initiatives, taxing option …

 

Tourism and leisure

Barriers: Lack of awareness for the consumer and the community, complexity of tourist packages, higher cost, competence with the mass tourism, lack of collaboration between the businesses …

Motivators: agencies that provide alternative packages, promotion of healthy lifestyles, marketing differentiators (for this government support is necessary)

Stakeholders: tourism national agencies, ministry of environment, media and social media, consumer, local communities, NGOs, private sector,

Solutions: networking among stakeholders and all players, lobbying towards regulations, capacity building, empowerment …

Next steps: Work with local tourism board and stakeholders such as journalists, highlight destinations as landmark, networking platforms, national meetings …

 

Transport and mobility

Barriers: There is lack of infrastructure for public transportation , public transport is not comfortable, public transport is not always accessible to all, too cheap gasoline, extension of cities (huge cities so it means too many hours), topography, cultural related issue with classes, extreme climate conditions, lack of market opportunities due to lack of policies …

Stakeholders: commuters/users, delivery workers, vehicle manufactures, education and research, universities …

Solutions: more urban planning mind sets (gathering business centers, more frequent and reliable services …), car taxation, parking fees and less space, electrical vehicles, virtual works, electric vehicle charge systems, including externalities …

Steps: pilot projects on alternatives and innovation (closing traffic once a week) …

 

 

 “Consumers are part of the solution and changes cannot be achieved without the involvement of consumers.? Najib Saab, AFED 

 

Let's continue the discussion

You can join and contribute the discussion on how to shift private consumer behaviour continuing in the session community here. You can also download the presentations here. In that community we encourage you to post your own reflections, experiences and questions. Keep engaging and shaping the content of SwitchMed Connect 2016.