Green Purchasing Up, Despite Economy

According to a recent study released by Green Seal, an independent nonprofit product certification organization, and EnviroMedia Social Marketing, four out of five people say they are still buying green products and services today, even in the midst of a U.S. recession.

 

Although these products, which claim to be environmentally friendly, sometimes cost more, half of the 1,000 people surveyed reported they are buying as many green products now as they were before the downturn. Additionally, 19 percent say they are buying more green products, while 14 percent are buying fewer.

 

“This research proves people want to do what’s best for the environment, but it needs to be easy and accessible. Companies should be clear about the environmental benefits of their products and services and make sure what they claim in the TV ad is backed up consistently on product packaging and on the Web site,” said Valerie Davis, EnviroMedia principal and CEO.

 

Reputation vs. Ads

 

As many businesses have already found, reputation is everything in the green buying sphere:

  • 21 percent of consumers surveyed said a product’s reputation is the biggest factor they weigh when making purchasing decisions. Word of mouth was the next highest rated (19 percent), followed by brand loyalty (15 percent) and only 9 percent say green advertising is their primary influencer.

 

Education vs. Labeling

 

Even though green buying is up, what exactly qualifies as green is still a mystery to many consumers:

  • About one in three consumers say they do not know how to tell if green product claims are true.
  • One in 10 consumers blindly trusts green product claims.
  • 24 percent of consumers are verifying green claims by reading the packaging.
  • 17 percent are turning to research, such as using the Internet and reading studies.

 

Intent vs. Action

 

Consumers want to minimize their waste, but are they maximizing their opportunities to reduce their consumption and recycle what’s left?

  • 60 percent of those surveyed look for minimally packaged goods, an action statistically tied with buying green cleaning products (58 percent).
  • While 87 percent of people surveyed say they recycle, the U.S. EPA reports only 33 percent of our waste is diverted from landfills.

 

According to Dr. Arthur Weissman, president and CEO of Green Seal, “This research suggests that consumers are buying green products second only to participating in recycling. This increased consumer demand sends a signal to manufacturers to produce products that are truly green.”

 

The full results of the study will be released by Green Seal and EnviroMedia Social Marketing from the first-ever Greenwashing Forum in Portland, Ore.

 

The margin of error on the 2009 National Green Buying Survey is +/- 3.2 percent. The research was conducted by telephone in a random-digit-dial sample. See chart for more detail.

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