The New Pragmatic Consumer: Green = Practical

Marketing green logo2 A new study from GfK Roper Consulting implies that despite green consumers' reduced spending, they don't have a reduced interest in green. It also seems as though the green consumers are less idealistic in this economic reality, and more pragmatic. GfK Roper says that consumers are shifting their green commitment to things like energy efficiency or reduction if they are unable to afford new green products.


Posted Nov. 23, 2009
By Sarah Mahoney, Marketing:Green

Marketers have heard a lot in the last year
about the ways green consumers have scaled back to accommodate tough
economic times, but a new study suggests it would be a big mistake to
interpret reduced sales as reduced interest.

In fact, according to new research from GfK Roper Consulting, there's
been little change in their commitment to the environment — just a big
shift in how they approach it, replacing idealism with hard-boiled
pragmatism.

"Consumer commitment to green living is very stable," Tim Kenyon, senior analyst for GfK's consumer trends division, tells Marketing Daily.
"But if products are too expensive, they will find other ways to
express that commitment. They may buy fewer green products, but they'll
do things like cut their energy costs or reduce consumption." The study
finds that 60% of people now believe green products are too costly, a
6-point increase from 2006.

The recession has ushered many of these consumers from environmental
altruism to a more practical approach, he says, with green purchases
more likely to be driven by the desire to save money, be healthier, or
get more value. They're also measuring the worth of their time
differently, with 28% saying they are "too busy" to do what it takes to
be green.

For marketers, that means it's essential to focus on green innovations
that consumers will regard as both easy and affordable. And while the
report also finds that environmental awareness is becoming more
mainstream, there is also a growing cynicism about marketers in
general. "They are frustrated," Kenyon says. "On one hand, they say
product packaging is a leading source of information about
environmental claims, and on the other they also say those claims can
be confusing and misleading."

And although shoppers are expressing a greater interest in
environmental purchases, especially in the CPG category, "consumers are
more conscious of picking and choosing, and beginning to make
trade-offs. That's true on larger purchases as well, like replacing a
roof or re-carpeting the home. And that may be the beginning of the
next stage of eco-consciousness — when people begin to think long and
hard about the cost and environmental benefits of one solution versus
another, and even consider less consumption, overall, as an
environmental option."

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