There is encouraging evidence of Singaporeans buying more organic products. According to Mr Tng Ah Yiam, FairPrice’s managing director of group purchasing, merchandising, and international trading, sales of organic products have soared by 35% last year (2011) compared to 2010. As a result, this leads to more local green businesses. I will be highlighting five local examples.
Quan Fa Organic farm
A cosmetic store Bud, located at Mandarin Gallery and Square 2 founded by Mr Eric Chew, that specialises in organic make-up, hair and body product.
A local factory, Olive & Green that produces only vegan products.
(Source: The Sunday Times, February 5, 2012)
Local café, Food For Thought has even thought of a creative idea to raise environmental awareness – The café does not charge for water but encourage customers to put money in “water jar”, and the fund will go to well-building projects in other countries. Mission statements about environmental issues are also displayed on the café walls.
Being green and environmental is becoming fashionable (in this case literally). More local retailers are also catering to a niche group who seeks environmental friendly fashion clothing and accessories. A local example include clothing shop, Zhai founded by Ms kim Rose Allen.
Importance and relevance of these green businesses
The rising popularity of these green businesses demonstrates that more Singaporeans are favouring sustainable and ethical consumption, and increasingly knowledgeable about organic products.
Demands for organic products remind high despite being generally more expensive. This could be due to two reasons. One – Growing affluence. Two – Increased environmental and health concern. For instance, customers’ purchase of organic crops can benefit both the environment and themselves. Since organic crops do not use any pesticide, this not only significantly reduces health risk, but also reduces the chance for pesticides like DDT to seep into nearby rivers which may cause water pollution. Besides, pesticides can also upset the ecological balance when birds or vultures accidentally consume crops covered with pesticide.
There may be two obstacles for Singaporeans to switch to green products. One – Organic products are generally more expensive. This is because the supplies of organic products are more limited, production requires more effort, and the material costs of organic product are much higher. As a result, the high cost may deter some Singaporeans. Two – Singaporeans may be plagued by short term thinking bias, and are overly positive about their own health. As such, they may see very little benefits of the organic products.
Customers’ purchasing decision for green products can be largely determined by both the internal and external factors. Internal factors can include attitude towards environmentalism, and also knowledge of the benefits of the green products. External factors can include the affordance of the green products. To increase Singaporeans’ receptivity of the green products, I would suggest educating Singaporeans on the benefits of such products and making them competitively price and affordable.
Handing out information alone is not effective to change Singaporeans’ attitude and opinion toward the green products, incentives are equally important as well. Olive & Green’s monthly dinner-cum-lecture is a good example how a company can use incentives (like free dinner) and information (like free lecture) to change Singaporeans’ attitude.
Olive and green’s monthly dinner-cum-lecture