There's work for marketers in Vietnam to make 'environmentally-friendly' an attractive attribute for young consumers, according to researchers from RMIT Vietnam, RMIT Australia and Victoria University Australia.
With a view to explore the attitudes and behaviours of young Vietnamese consumers towards pro-environment purchasing, the research team conducted the country's first study on the topic by examining the actions made by family members across three generations.
The study involved a survey of 200 three-generation families from Ha Noi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City.
Results indicate environmental awareness exists across the generations but it is a low priority for young generation consumers when making purchases across different product categories.
RMIT Vietnam Assistant Professor Dr Lukas Parker was involved in the study, titled 'Collecting cultures: Family decision making in Vietnam'.
Dr Parker said the inclination for young consumers not to consider the environment when making a purchase was evident in expressive purchases, which are those associated with the consumer's need to express social status, prestige and an appearance of 'taste'.
"It includes items such as mobile phones, laptops, and clothes," he said.
"The practice is less evident in utilitarian purchases such as groceries, light bulbs, and personal care products.
"It poses an interesting challenge for brands to make 'environment-friendly' an attractive attribute for young consumers who associate making purchases as a status-filled activity."
The three cities included in the study face environmental problems typical to most major cities in developing countries across South-East Asia, including airborne pollution, water contamination and treatment, as well as problems associated with hard waste management, recycling and disposal.
Dr Parker said it is encouraging young Vietnamese consumers are aware of environmentally-friendly choices in everyday products but there is still work to do for marketers of environmentally responsible brands.
"The results indicate environmental awareness still needs to translate into purchase actions," he said.
"Marketers need to focus on repositioning the image of environmentally-friendly products in the minds of these consumers.
"More research into environmentally-friendly consumption behaviour is needed to help with this process."
The study, which was conducted between 2012 and 2013, was undertaken by RMIT Vietnam researchers Dr Lukas Parker, Hue Trong Duong and Dang Nguyen; RMIT researcher Professor Linda Brennan; and Victoria University researcher Dr Torgeir Aleti Watne.
Results were presented as part of the Asia@RMIT conference held at RMIT Vietnam in June 2014.