What Does China’s Growing Sustainability Awareness Mean for Brands? 


Emerging Communications


May 25, 2023

When it comes to sustainability, Chinese consumers are leading the charge towards a greener future, something brands in the China Market can’t ignore.  

PWCs June 2022 Global Insights Survey found 34% of Chinese consumers care about a business’ environmental values when making a purchase, versus 29% in the US. 

So, how can brands prepare for the future of sustainable consumption? And how does this translate into consumer behaviour?  Let’s dive in. 

Redefining Sustainability: The Unique Perspective of Young Chinese Consumers 

Young Chinese consumers have a refreshing take on sustainability. 

For them, it’s not just about saving the planet, it’s about creating a better future for all. A future that combines style, innovation and environmental consciousness. They embrace the idea that sustainability can be fun, colourful, and oh-so-trendy! 

The key to an engaging green China strategy is authenticity and transparency. With over half of Chinese consumers questioning companies’ sustainability claims, it’s crucial to build trust and maintain a positive image. In fact, almost two-thirds of young people want to improve their lives through sustainable practices. They believe that by doing this, they can have better health, more comfort, and increased happiness.  

This group is redefining what it means to be green, and their unique perspective is reshaping the landscape of eco-friendly living.  

Understanding the ‘Retro’ Fashion Trend and Its Environmental Implications 

Retro fashion is making a big comeback in China. It’s another sign that Chinese consumers are becoming more eco-friendly and conscious about their choices.  

The second-hand China market is booming, with a staggering 12,540 billion yu an spent on pre-loved items in 2020 alone. Young consumers, primarily Millenials and Chinese GenZ, are taking advantage of second-hand trading platforms, making up an astonishing 60% of all users. 

Chinese social media platforms like Xianyu, Zhuanzhuan, and DuoZhuoYu are buzzing with activity as people embrace this on-trend movement. Consumers connect and share their minimalistic lifestyles while swapping second-hand treasures. This circular economy provides a shopping thrill while being kind to the planet. Win-win! 

Redefining Luxury: Young Fashionistas Embrace Sustainable Fashion 

An increasing number of young Chinese consumers are avoiding fast fashion and instead following a ‘’less is more’’ approach.  

In the world of luxury fashion, ‘’remake’’ or clothing reconstruction is all the rage. Young fashionistas are using this upcycling trend to express their personal style with unique eco-conscious apparel.  

Sustainable fashion is taking off on social media platforms like Xiaohongshu too, with users proudly sharing extravagant clothing makeovers and DIY successes. Chinese consumers are embracing sustainable consumption that will leave a long-lasting positive impact. 

Consumer Behaviour and Sustainability: Are Chinese Consumers Willing to Pay More? 

Recently there has been a shift in consumer priorities and the way they shop is changing.  

Money used to be the key factor influencing consumer decisions, but now they care less about price and more about supporting sustainable brands. The desire to pay more for sustainable purchases is linked to income levels. The higher the income, the more they’re willing to pay for eco-friendly goods. 

A recent survey by Accenture showed a distinct rise in Chinese consumers embracing sustainability. In fact, a whopping 43% of people said they’re willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly products – a massive shift in the shopping market as a whole. And it’s not China-centric, it’s a growing global movement. 

How Key Opinion Leaders [KOLs] are Influencing Chinese Consumers 

The road to a more sustainable consumer base is not without its challenges. One of the major obstacles to full growth is the lack of understanding of eco-friendly practices and products. 

That’s where KOLs step in, as influencer marketing is big business in China.  

Sustainability-focused KOLs are using their power to promote eco-friendly consumption to followers on Chinese social media platforms like Bilibili. Sharing topics on how to make sustainable choices in their everyday lives and making it exciting and accessible to everyone.  

As more people learn about sustainability, we can expect a surge in the demand and sales of sustainable goods across the country. All pointing towards a bright future for eco-conscious consumerism in China.