‘BUY Local, Go Lokal’ program promotes sustainable business practices. — GO LOKAL FB PAGE

CONSUMERS now prefer products that are considered sustainable or are created by companies and brands with ESG (environmental, social and governance) policies. 

“For the very first time, Filipinos are now starting to be willing to walk the talk when it comes to sustainability,” Bain and Co. Associate Partner Bennett Aquino said during BusinessWorld Insights on Wednesday.

He noted that one of the more prominent consumer behavior shifts amid the pandemic is the rise of “social commerce.”

Citing a survey by the consulting firm, Mr. Aquino said nine out of 10 consumers are willing to pay a higher price for ESG-focused companies and products.

“Eight out of 10 of them are actually willing to pay up to 10% more premium and some would attribute this actually to the heightened sense of social responsibility or just the general bayanihan sense that has been reinvigorated during this pandemic,” Mr. Aquino said, referring to the Filipinos’ culture of finding unity in community. 

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has a “Buy Local, Go Lokal” program to support Philippine MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), as well as an initiative to promote sustainable business practices.

“We also have the advocacy on sustainable consumption and production so that we can preserve the blessings of the environment, all these products come from the environment naturally, and we of course need to be able to protect our source,” said DTI Undersecretary for Consumer Protection Group Ruth B. Castelo.

Anna Melissa Nava, co-founder and chief executive officer of 1Export, said that consumers are also consciously trying to buy local, homegrown brands.

Local companies are facing greater market demand both here and abroad despite the global supply chain problem, as consumers are looking for more “authentic products.”

“We run an e-commerce company where we bring products from the Philippines to the rest of the world and we’ve seen a trend where people are willing to pay more if they know that the products are authentically made and done by certain people from the Philippines, from a certain group in the Philippines,” Ms. Nava said.

The trend of consumers leaning towards companies and products with an emphasis on sustainability and social responsibility may also be observed in other countries even before the pandemic struck.

“We expect this trend to continue for years to come and is something that businesses and brands need to keep in mind as they move forward with their strategies,” Mr. Aquino said. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte