I Heart Enlightened Consumers
How heartening! A recent survey shows consumer interest in green products and expectations for businesses to protect the environment is on the rise!
Yep, you read right. According to a Green is Universal online survey of 1,647 U.S. adults, more than two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed say it’s worth paying more for a green product or service that is from a brand they trust. Green Is Universal is NBC/Universal’s initiative to raise environmental awareness and create positive change.
The fact that these types of “Green Consumer” surveys are popping up more and more frequently underscores our belief that doing good isn’t purely altruistic but holds real business and shareholder value – and that’s only going to increase if the direction in which these survey results are trending are a true indication.
The survey shot onto my radar yesterday during the L’Oreal Sustainable Intelligence Day in New York City (yes, I was sneaking a peek at my Blackberry). L’Oreal, by the way, is the real deal when it comes to walking the sustainability talk; while I was invited to give a presentation on the challenges and rewards of building a brand committed to sustainability, I’m fairly certain that I left the symposium with considerably more insight than I provided.
Just as I read the email which highlighted Green Is Universal’s study, one of the other speakers was referring to a 2008 study conducted by Deloitte for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. She quoted one of the findings of the study that sounded similar yet different to what I had just read on my Blackberry: “A significant minority of committed and proactive green shoppers are willing to pay more for green products, however the larger potential population of shoppers that lean towards green want price and performance parity for sustainable products because it is not their dominant purchase driver.”
Deloitte conducted a direct study of more than 6,000 people while they were shopping at 11 major retailers. 54% of the shoppers interviewed considered sustainability to be one of their decision making factors in purchasing products, and 95% of the shoppers said they “would buy green.” However, a mere 22% actually did buy a green product during their shopping experience.
Very interesting. 95% intent but only 22% action?
Both studies showcased findings which support the notion that consumers have a desire to purchase green products and that they even possess some degree of willingness to pay more for green. But what the GMA study showed was there is still a significant amount of consumers who actually aren’t willing to throw down a few more green singles for the sake of being green when they get to the cash register.
So where does that leave us? Well, it’s research — we could slice and dice it a million ways and derive multiple conclusions that take us in as many directions. But let’s not get caught up in that today. Today, let’s celebrate the fact that consumers are enlightened and responsible, that they want environmentally-thoughtful products and are willing to pay for them (and that some are even willing to pay more for them!).
And then after today, there’s tomorrow. Tomorrow, companies like L’Oreal, NBC Universal and Timberland need to soldier on so as to capitalize on the opportunity these consumers are giving us. Our messaging around our products and practices needs to be truthful and crystal clear and difference making – on many levels. Our product design and development needs to lead, inspire and drive innovations that support our commitment to sustainability. And companies like L’Oreal, NBC Universal and Timberland need to take this news from Green Is Universal to heart and encourage other for-profit companies to do the same.