The survey, performed by Ipsos, was commissioned by the Union for Ethical Biotrade and is the Asian extension of its yearly Biodiversity Barometer.
Aiming to understand consumer attitudes towards biodiversity and related concepts, as well as the treatment of the subject by companies and the media, the survey has previously looked at consumers in Europe, USA and Brazil.
According to the Union for Ethical Biotrade, which attempts to promote the ethical trade of biodiversity-related goods, the inclusion of Japan and South Korea was to mark the tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity which is currently being held in Nagoya, Japan.
Awareness is high in South Korea
Awareness of biodiversity in South Korea is high according to the survey; with 76 per cent of the 1000 South Koreans surveyed knowing the term, second only to Brazil’s 94 per cent. In Japan, 62 per cent were aware of the term.
Furthermore, a significant proportion of the consumers in South Korea involved in the survey were aware of the term biopiracy; 71 percent in comparison to Brazil’s 74 per cent. This is significantly more than in Europe and the USA (23 per cent) and Japan (40 per cent).
In addition, the South Korean consumers seem to be particularly aware of concepts such as respecting traditional knowledge and the payment of fair prices.
Importance of a good reputation
South Korean and Japanese consumers also claimed they would reject personal care and cosmetics products if the companies were not respecting the environment or trading ethically, as well as communicating their desire to know more about companies’ sourcing patterns.
Although it is well known that consumers’ buying practices do not always match what they say they are going to do, these results do illustrate the need for companies to protect their reputation.
If a cosmetics and personal care company is suspected to be operating in ways that are unethical or do not respect the environment, it stands to lose respect and sales. And, the more informed the consumer the more likely its products will be rejected.
Trust in the sector is low
When it comes to trust in the sector, it seems that South Korean consumers are more cynical than their Japanese peers, with only 38 per cent saying in general they trust cosmetic and personal care companies, compared to 49 per cent in Japan.
Reflecting results in Europe, USA and Brazil, consumers in South Korea and Japan state they would be reassured if companies if their commitments to ethical sourcing had been verified by independent organisations.