Thursday 23 May 2013

Sustainability and the Consumer: Green Marketing Statistics

Lee Ann Head, VP Research, Shelton Group has explored “sustainability” from the viewpoint of the average consumer.  Asked what do you think Sustainable means in the phrases Sustainable Products or Sustainable Practices the top 6 of widely varying answers were “No Idea” (21%), “Long lasting and Durable” (14%),  “Environmentally safe and friendly” (10%), “Renewable – easily replaced” (10%), “Preserves resources – non-depleting” (7%), “Keeps going” (7%).  Only 7% came close to the Meeting our needs while preserving the ability of future generations to meet theirs definition which the EPA favours. 

70% of those questioned were searching for Greener products, mainly to reduce energy use (71%) , but also for Home Cleaning (61%), Laundry (59%), Kitchen towels (58%), food (47%) and personal care products (46%).  How do they identify Greener products? Mainly by reading the ingredients list and the claims on the packs, but some do their own research on the web and believe the recommendations of Certifiers such as “Energy Star” and “Good Housekeeping”.  However, due to the recession they were losing interest in green products which did not have an immediate payback and felt that most Green home cleaning products were disappointing.  They were also rejecting toilet paper and kitchen wipes which claimed to use recycled paper and try to justify a premium.  For the consumer, recycled means cheaper.

So, convenience and comfort continue to trump the environmental arguments and people want products with fewer chemicals and more Made in the USA content.  More want personal care products with fewer chemicals rather than more bio-biobased content.

Perhaps of most interest was the emergence of end-of-life disposal as an issue this year.  74% thought the producer should take responsibility for end-of-life disposal and 61% thought the retailer should.

Asked whether the consumers’ view of disposable diapers was changing as a result of the changes evident in this survey, Ms Head thought they were not.  The convenience of disposable diapers far-outweighed any negative thoughts about their sustainability or disposal.

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