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Consumers Continue To Buy Green Despite The Recessed Economy

More than one-third of consumers are likely to buy environmentally responsible products today despite tough economic times.

At the outset of the year, the word on the street was that although ‘sustainability’ is a trend that an increasing number of American consumers are looking to follow, the demand for green goods would be lower in a recessed economy given their higher price tag. Today as we approach the end of the first quarter, it appears that American consumers continue to buy green despite the dire state of the economy.

According to the results of the 2009 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey (an online survey conducted January 29-30, 2009 by Opinion Research Corporation), fewer than 8 percent of American consumers say they are less likely to change their environmental shopping habits. Here are some other interesting facts highlighted by the survey:

  • 35 percent of Americans have higher interest in the environment today than they did one year ago
  • 35 percent of Americans have higher expectations for companies to make and sell environmentally responsible products and services during the economic downturn
  • 70 percent of Americans indicate that they are paying attention to what companies are doing with regard to the environment today, even if they cannot buy until the future

Landor Associates had predicted that although ‘green’ would be a strong trend in the USA over the course of the next decade, the sales of green brands would be lower during difficult economic times. However not only does the survey suggest otherwise but Jonathan Yohannan, Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Cone sees ‘green consumer behavior’ as a long term prospect:

“The fact that consumers continue to be interested in the environment and mindful of corporate efforts, even in the midst of a grueling recession, is evidence that this is more than just a passing trend,” says Yohannan. “Environmental responsibility is not just an expectation in times of prosperity.”

Environmental messaging is immune to consumer distrust

The survey tells us that as consumer confidence in companies dips to record lows, trust in environmental messages remains surprisingly resilient.  Nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they trust companies to tell them the truth in their environmental messaging especially if they communicate their environmental commitments year-round rather than merely targeting environmental events like Earth Day.

The 2009 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey shows promise no doubt, however with a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,087 adults, comprising 518 men and 569 women, one must be wary of taking it at face value. It is not clear whether the sampling comprised LOHAS minded consumers or just the average Joe.

For a copy of the survey fact sheet, please  visit www.coneinc.com/research.

Image credit: EPA

Written by Reenita Malhotra

Reenita Malhotra Hora is an Ayurveda clinician, entrepreneur, writer and mom. Her experience has ranged from running Ayoma, an Ayurveda business to running a natural health practice at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center.

Reenita is a published author of two books books about health and wellness: ‘Ayurveda - the Natural Medicine of India’ and
‘Inner Beauty’. She is also the Editor for Green Options Media's business blogs and a freelance writer for a variety of print and web publications.

In quieter moments, she likes to spend her time hiking, swimming the warm seas, cooking with the family or writing fantasy fiction adventure stories for kids from from 2 to 92.

Check out her wisdom at www.reenita.com

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  1. For us we always ask the same questions of all promotional item clients. What is your budget? Who is your audience? When is your event/in-hands date?

    Then – if we are not talking to a eco focused company – we ask, Do you want to go green?

    In the promo industry, when looking at items of quality there is very little price difference between traditional and green promo items.

    With the cheap stuff yes, cheap stuff made from bad materials is cheaper, but for the quality items, like a nice 100% cotton dress shirt and a nice 100% eco bamboo cotton dress shirt the pricing is the same.

    So for more and more of our clients green is just a choice, and honestly if the pricing is the same, most opt for a green option.

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