Most Small Biz Owners Say Customers Won’t Pay More for Green: Survey

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Small business owners often have fewer resources than their big business peers.  According to a recent Greenbiz post, small business owners are anticipating that consumer interest in greener products has decreased.

  • 1/3 small business owners admits the economy is affecting their plans to adopt greener business practices.
  • 67% don't believe consumers will pay more for environmentally friendly goods (increase of 18% since April 2007).

Posted Apr 1, 2009
By GreenBiz Staff

A majority of small business owners are taking at least small steps
to make their operations more environmentally friendly, but one in
three admit the slumping economy is impacting their plans to adopt more
green business practices.

The results come from the Small Business Index survey from Wells Fargo and Gallup.
A majority of those in the survey — 67 percent — don't think
customers will pay more for environmentally friendly goods and
services.  This is up considerably since April 2007, when nearly half,
or 49 percent, believed consumers would fork over more green for
greener products.

Of course, the change in perception is due to today's economic woes. Still, a spate of recent surveys
show some are indeed willing. For example, a Forrester survey suggests
up to 18 percent of consumers would pay more for an environmentally
friendly product, while recent Carbon Trust research said it's
important to buy from environmentally responsible companies.

In the Wells Fargo/Gallup survey, just 37 percent said they actively
try to show their green credentials to their customers, down from 47
percent in April 2007. The No. 1 reason for communicating efforts: "As
part of a personal commitment or responsibility," followed by public
relations reasons and attracting customers.

Forty-five percent said they've assessed how much energy their
company uses while 68 percent have made the switch to energy-savings
appliances, light bulbs or vehicles.

Fifty-five percent of respondents believe their company can take
specific actions to improve the environment, but 43 percent don't,
representing a potentially large swath of small business owners who are
missing out on opportunities to make their operations more efficient
and save money in the process.

Wells Fargo and Gallup have conducted the Small Business Index
survey for the last 23 quarters on their perceptions of their business
financial situation. The most recent survey, conducted Jan. 22 – Feb.
2, is based on 604 small business owners across the country.

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