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APAC consumers increasingly expect banks to lead environmental change: Dentsu report

Jovi Ho
Jovi Ho • 4 min read
APAC consumers increasingly expect banks to lead environmental change: Dentsu report
While 49% of APAC consumers believe that governments bear the primary responsibility for addressing environmental issues, rising distrust in government is shifting the focus onto brands, says the global marketing and advertising agency. Photo: Bloomberg
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Asia-Pacific (APAC) consumers are increasingly looking at banks to take the lead in environmental change as greenwashing claims intensify against governments and other brands. 

Consumer sentiments concerning environmental sustainability and inclusivity are playing an increasingly influential role in shaping the landscape of the banking and finance industry in APAC, according to Dentsu International’s Finance DNA: The Future of Finance and Payments report, which delves into 10 trends expected to shape the sector in the coming decade.

For the report, London-based research firm Foresight Factory conducted a series of online surveys with up to 12,884 respondents across Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, China and India.

An increasing number of APAC consumers are embracing green values as they fear the impacts of climate change, says Dentsu on Oct 2, and 63% of those surveyed said they felt personally at risk in the next five years. 

This heightened awareness is leading consumers to expect more from brands, including financial service providers, says the global marketing and advertising agency. 

While 49% of APAC consumers believe that governments bear the primary responsibility for addressing environmental issues, rising distrust in government is shifting the focus onto brands. This includes banks, as consumers increasingly look to them to take the lead in effecting positive change, says Dentsu.

See also: Olam's ofi announces new 2030 targets and action plans for resilient ingredient supply chains

When it comes to financial products, sustainability is already a significant consideration for 44% of APAC consumers, influencing their choices in areas like credit cards and investments. Among millennials, this figure rises to 53%.

In addition, 65% of consumers in APAC expressed interest in a mobile application that tracks their personal impact on the environment. 

Sustainable investing is gaining momentum with a nascent trend observed across APAC indicating that a sizeable minority in Australia (14%), South Korea (15%), and China (15%) are “very interested” in funds that invest in sustainable companies. 

See also: How an Austrian minister saved the EU’s most hated climate law

By 2030, the proportion of APAC consumers using sustainable investment funds is projected to grow from 14% to 20%. As scepticism around greenwashing rises in tandem, brands must be prepared to respond to greater demands for transparency including proof of impact, says Dentsu. 

Dominic Powers, chief growth and innovation officer, Dentsu APAC, says consumers are not only aware of the climate crisis but also interested in how they can make better decisions to contribute towards a more sustainable future. “The growing wave of eco-consciousness in the Asia-Pacific region presents an opportunity for brands to align with consumer values, enhance their sustainability efforts, and foster deeper connections with their audience by demonstrating a strong commitment to a climate-positive world.”

Representation and inclusivity 

In addition to environmental sustainability, consumers are looking to financial service providers that champion not only passive inclusivity, but the active empowerment of ever-more diverse customers, communities and needs, says Dentsu. 

While inclusive advertising may have been sufficient in the past, today's consumers are seeking representation of minorities in leadership roles within organisations. 42% of those surveyed (and 47% of Gen Z consumers) believe it is more important for minority groups to be represented in company leadership than to be featured in advertising. 

Promoting financial inclusion is one way brands can distinguish themselves in APAC, which has a significant unbanked population, says Dentsu. Financial players will need to contemplate their role in facilitating access for these communities, including the elderly, and migrants and refugees, adds the company.

“Our findings reflect consumer desire for a genuine and sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion. They want to see brands transcend virtue-signalling and purpose-washing to embed inclusion across all key decisions,” says Powers. “We can expect financial inclusion to become a widespread aim across the banking and finance industry, as brands try to help consumers from all backgrounds build a more financially secure future.”

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