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Empowering Consumers for a Sustainable Future: Overcoming Barriers and Building Trust

Through transparency, affordability and a commitment to sustainability, businesses can engender the trust of consumers and empower them to make conscious choices for a better future.
By Liu Wei
hands holding a plant - sustainability

(Image: Noah Buscher/Unsplash)

This article is sponsored by Alibaba

In an era when environmental consciousness is becoming increasingly important, consumers worldwide are expressing a strong desire for more sustainable lifestyles. However, a recent independent study commissioned by Alibaba Group reveals that convenience and affordability remain significant barriers to adopting sustainable practices. 

This article explores the findings of the study and highlights the crucial role that businesses can play in making sustainability more accessible. Through transparency, affordability and a commitment to sustainability, businesses can engender the trust of consumers and empower them to make conscious choices for a better future.

Bridging the gap: Convenience and affordability 

The study, titled "The Sustainability Trends Report 2023," surveyed over 14,000 consumers across 14 markets. It found that convenience and affordability are key factors for consumer behavior. Consumers cite lack of information (48 percent) and high prices (45 percent) as the major obstacles preventing them from making more sustainable purchases. Businesses can address these concerns by making sustainable options more convenient and affordable.

Building trust through transparency

Consumers surveyed showed skepticism (38 percent) toward businesses' claims of sustainability, with only 15 percent expressing complete trust in such claims. Building trust is essential for businesses looking to engage consumers in sustainable practices, and transparency is key to bridging this trust gap. 

By providing concrete evidence of their sustainable practices, businesses can demonstrate their commitment and earn the trust of consumers. This might be particularly important for consumers in European markets, where we measured higher levels of skepticism of sustainability claims.

Alibaba's commitment to sustainability

Alibaba Group’s approach to help address the sustainability challenge recognizes our unique capabilities as a digital platform company. As a result of Alibaba’s platform model and ecosystem, we are pioneering the concept of "Scope 3+." Scope 3+ refers to the emissions generated by a wider range of participants in a digital platform’s ecosystem, currently outside of the Scope 1, 2 and 3. Scope 3+ business ecosystem decarbonization supports technological and business model innovations to enable and engage with a broad range of stakeholders in more decarbonization actions

In our latest Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report, Alibaba disclosed its first annual Scope3+ decarbonization progress with state-of-the-art scientific measurements and third-party verification. Alibaba showed how a platform can help reduce barriers, increase transparency, and expand sustainable choices for consumers. Our Carbon88 carbon ledger and Low-carbon Friendly Products Program offers over 180 million consumers information and rewards for green choices across our diverse platforms, from selecting no cutlery in food delivery to choosing certified green products. Our Decarbonization-friendly Actions program works with leading consumer brands to design and offer more sustainable products sold on our platforms. 

The result of these efforts is to make sustainable choices more abundant and transparent, while maintaining their affordability.

Empowering consumers for a sustainable future

On a positive note, the survey results show that consumers globally are eager to learn and engage in sustainable practices. Over three-quarters (76 percent) express a desire for more information on how to be more sustainable, with emerging Asian markets showcasing the highest willingness to learn. 

Businesses can facilitate this learning process by providing accessible information and educational resources. Respondents also emphasized the importance of affordability, sustainable packaging, and wider product choices. By fulfilling these expectations, businesses can help consumers make sustainable choices with ease.

Technology as a catalyst for sustainability

The research shows that technology and digitalization can be pivotal in supporting consumers to lead more sustainable lives. Over half of online shoppers (57 percent) are utilizing digital marketplaces dedicated to sustainable products. This trend is particularly prominent in Asian emerging markets, with the Philippines (76 percent), Indonesia (73 percent) and Thailand (70 percent) leading the way.

Businesses have an opportunity to leverage technology to streamline information and search processes to address consumers who cite a lack of information (48 percent) and a time-consuming research process (27 percent) for discouraging buying sustainable products. Companies might also consider digital marketplaces tailored to sustainable products. The study highlights the untapped potential of digital platforms, particularly in Asian emerging markets, where online shoppers express high preferences for buying sustainable products.

Businesses, particularly digital platform operators like Alibaba Group, have a crucial role to play in overcoming these obstacles. By prioritizing transparency, affordability and a diverse abundance of sustainable options, businesses can earn the trust of consumers and give them more conscious options. Together, businesses and consumers can pave the way for a sustainable future that benefits both the environment and society as a whole.

This article is sponsored by Alibaba

Liu Wei headshot

Liu Wei is the ESG Strategy Lead at Alibaba Group.

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