Consumers will pay more for responsible products

Published on
August 13, 2013

More than half of global consumers are willing to pay extra for socially responsible products, including sustainable seafood, according to a new study.

In the largest study of its kind, researchers at NYU Stern School of Business conducted a meta-analysis of 83 different research papers on consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for socially responsible products of all types (both durable and nondurable items such as seafood).

They found that 60 percent of consumers are willing to pay extra for socially responsible products. On average, consumers are willing to pay a 17.3 percent premium for goods that provide a social or environment benefit. Shoppers are willing to pay the highest premium — 9 percent more — for goods that provide benefits to humans (such as good labor practices), followed by purchases that benefit animals (0.5 percent), followed by goods that are environmentally friendly.

“This has some implication for how companies market and develop their products. In the seafood industry, issues such as saving jobs or providing good working conditions for industry workers may pay off better than considerations for the fish themselves,” Russ Winer, chair of NYU Stern’s Marketing Department and the study’s author, told SeafoodSource.

On average, consumers are willing to pay an 11 percent premium for products that feature an official certification versus those that are not certified. 

“Certification increases the percentage WTP [willing to pay] over the base price, suggesting that people are willing to pay considerably more when the good in question has some kind of official certification,” Winer wrote in the report.

Shoppers in Europe and Australia are much more willing to pay a premium for socially responsible products, compared to North Americans. They will also pay significantly more for socially responsible products than South Americans and Asians, according to the researchers.

The NYU Stern research dovetails with a new Nielsen study that also found that 50 percent of consumers surveyed globally are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs that give back to society.

However, the Nielsen survey found that Europeans were least likely to pay extra (36 percent) for goods and services from socially responsible companies, while more than two-thirds of consumers in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia said they would pay more.

Contributing Editor

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