Increasing number of shoppers showing willingness to spend more on green products

Posted on November 28, 2009. Filed under: green business, green purchasing, living green |

For those of us whose lifestyle and livelihood are focused on educating others about healthy, sustainable choices, it’s a always a feel-good moment to read that consumers are increasingly putting a high value on green products, and willing to spend a little extra $green$ to have them. I’ve been intrigued by the various studies and consumer polls that are showing a preference for green products despite the struggling economy. This may be a testament to the “less is more” philosophy but also “quality over quantity,” with a growing number of Americans committed to purchasing practices that are both socially and environmentally responsible, and also simply better for them.

A study by Miller Zell, Inc. reported that the “majority of shoppers polled indicated they would be most likely to pay a 10¢ premium for household products.”  Interestingly, the study also showed that low-income shoppers were more willing to pay a 10¢ premium compared to middle and upper income groups.

Writer Basil Katz’s recent article, “Shoppers going green despite struggling economy” in Reuters said that “despite the worst U.S. recession in decades, sales of organic and sustainable products have continued to grow, with shoppers willing to spend a few more dollars in a bid to become more green.”

The article also reported that U.S. supermarket sales of environmentally sustainable or “ethical” products — from energy-efficient light bulbs to organic produce — will rise about 8.7 percent in 2009 to nearly $38 billion, according to a recent study by Packaged Facts, a market research provider.

Other excerpts from the article state that “President Barack Obama’s commitment to tackle climate change, a string of scandals over tainted food and effective marketing of sustainable products have helped convince more Americans, whose environmental credentials lag behind Europeans, to buy green.”  And, that sales of goods specifically labeled organic rose 17 percent to $24.6 billion in 2008, according to the Organic Trade Association.

The Miller Zell study reported that women are more eco-conscious, closely followed by Gen Y. One of the frustrations with both of these groups, however, is the level of communication offered in-store about green products.This is something that I hear often from my household clients, especially when I educate them on pros and cons of certain green products.

For example, many people are willing to spend a little more money upfront on compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to save energy and money long-term, but many people are not aware that you should not throw CFLs in the trash (See Earth911.org for recycling centers), and that there are safety precautions if one should break in your home (See EPA guidance).

With an increasing number of consumers purchasing green products, companies producing them have a responsibility to be transparent about what makes their products green. Consumers also have some due diligence of their own to do in making sure they are not victim to green-washing.

Here are some resources that can help consumers determine what companies and their products have been vetted by a third party and are legitimately green:

Green America – offers a directory of green businesses that have been Green America approved

Green Seal – provides science-based environmental certification standards for products and services

Responsible Purchasing Network – an international network of buyers dedicated to socially responsible and environmentally sustainable purchasing

Green Guide – National Geographic’s buying guide for green products

With the holiday season in full force, there are many ways to be an environmentally responsible shopper and gift giver. Our West Coast sister company, Greenshops.com, has many green products to offer this holiday, and eco-labels to explain exactly what makes their products green. Enter Code GLC2009 for a 10% discount on your first purchase.

be well. live green.

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