A new international analysis of consumer ivory demand released today by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan presents empirical evidence that there is a substantial ivory market driven by ivory’s perceived suitability for gift giving and the social status ivory ownership conveys. This is despite the fact that support for government action to ban or limit the ivory trade is widespread in all countries surveyed, even among ivory owners and those who express an interest in buying it. Taken together, the results provide critical data and consumer insights that can inform and refine strategies to curb ivory demand that would ultimately help protect the world’s disappearing elephant populations.
National Geographic retained GlobeScan to research consumer demand for ivory in the five countries where demand for ivory is known to be concentrated — China, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States. The three-phased study, conducted between February 2014 and September 2014, was designed to understand the dynamics driving ivory demand among adults 18 and older. Said Terry Garcia, chief science and exploration officer for the National Geographic Society, “We are sharing this research in the hope that it can help guide efforts to mitigate consumer demand in these critical markets.”
GlobeScan collected data using a variety of methods, including in-depth interviews, focus groups and quantitative surveys. Respondents in each country were grouped according to their stated interest in purchasing ivory and their self-reported financial ability to do so. Of the five groups identified, “Likely Buyers” are individuals who expressed the strongest intent to buy ivory in the future and by definition are the most likely to drive continued ivory demand.
The number of Likely Buyers is substantial, totaling 22 percent of respondents across all five countries surveyed. In China and the Philippines, Likely Buyers represent just over one-third of those surveyed.
A majority of these Likely Buyers (67 percent) — including current owners of ivory products — said they would support a ban on all ivory trade in their country.