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Green: Mainstream, Sticky, but Not Deep

What is the current state of the consumer on the issue of green products? Grail Research, which recently conducted a survey of 500 consumers on issues related to the purchase of green products, refers to green as mainstream and sticky, but not deep.

According to the study, “The Green Revolution” (September 2009),

  • 84% of consumers say that either some or most of the products they purchase are green (mainstream)
  • Only 1% say that they used to buy green products but no longer do (sticky)
  • Only 8% of consumers make green the primary factor in their purchase decisions (not deep)

The number one reason people are deterred from buying green products? They are perceived as being too expensive, with 69% of respondents giving this answer. Forty percent view green products as not offering enough variety and choice.

What is the difference between the moderately interested (light green consumers) and the very committed (dark green consumers)?

  • “Dark green” consumers tend to be older, more well educated, and more affluent than “light green” consumers
  • They also tend to care more about what is in “green” products (all natural, organic, non-toxic) and how they are made (such as by socially responsible companies)
  • “Dark green” consumers also tend to be more thoughtful about their purchases, often planning them ahead of time. “Light green” consumers tend to be more impulsive, often buying green products out of curiosity

Regardless of group, green consumers want the product to perform at equal — or not superior — levels to their traditional counterparts.

Here’s the part I think is particularly interesting, and it goes back to the issue of stickiness. Regardless of the different reasons various consumer groups give for purchasing green products, their commitment to purchasing these products is greater than the pinch of the recession. There is a real commitment to environmental sustainability that is impressive.

  • 41% said they are still buying the same quantity of green products, just less expensive ones
  • 19% have reduced the volume of green products that they buy (but are still buying them)
  • 16% are actually increased their usage of green products
  • Only 19% of consumers responding to the survey said they had switched some of their green products to conventional; only 2% said they had switched all of their green products to conventional

Sometime back, I reported on research by Collette Chandler of Keyboard Culture that showed green consumers as more loyal than other consumers groups. It’s nice when such research is supported by similar conclusions, as it is here. It means that, while green consumers can be a finicky bunch, they’re a demographic worth courting.

To download free copy of this report, click here.

Like this post? View all my “Greening Print Marketing” posts.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.


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