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February 18, 2009
Consumer Demand for Green Products is Still Rising, Survey Finds
    by Robert Kropp

Survey by Boston Consulting Group of 9,000 consumers worldwide indicates that buying green products remains a priority despite economic downturn.

Now that the downturn has settled upon the world economy for what appears to be a protracted period, will consumers react by prioritizing bargains over products that benefit the environment? Or will the trend toward the purchase of green products continue?

According to a survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the trend toward buying green continues. More consumers purchased green products in 2008 than in 2007, the survey found, and more consumers were willing to pay a higher price for green products if they were considered to be of higher quality.

The report, entitled Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies, surveyed approximately 9,000 adults aged 18-to-35 in nine countries through online questionnaires. In addition, face-to-face interviews were conducted in seven major cities in China.

Executives at 20 leading consumer companies were also interviewed about their green experiences and strategies.

According to the report, "The green movement is about reducing waste and minimizing our impact on the environment. Companies that translate these goals into a holistic approach to offering differentiated green products bringing down costs across the entire value chain have been rewarded with higher margins and market share."

"The continuing expansion of green consciousness around the world presents a huge opportunity for smart companies," the report states. "The business case for green remains compelling, especially in a tough market."

46% of respondents to the BCG survey strongly agreed that the actions of individuals can help protect the environment. When asked what actions they take to help protect the environment, a majority cited activities that also helped save them money: turning off home electronics, recycling, using low-energy light bulbs, saving water, and bringing their own bags to the grocery store were mentioned most often.

When asked about their green shopping habits, a majority of respondents said that their most frequent green purchases were in the categories of paper and packaged products, disposable home products, fresh meat and vegetables, and electronics and appliances. Nearly half of the respondents indicated a belief that green products are of a higher quality, especially in the category of ingestible products.

A majority of respondents in all countries also expressed a willingness to pay a premium of 5% or more for green products, especially those in the food and electronics and appliances categories.

73% of consumers considered it important that companies have good environmental records. Respondents said that companies should be clear about product risks and safety, provide information on environmental impact, have high ethical standards, and treat their employees fairly.

The survey recommended that companies factor sustainability into their business plans, embed green values throughout their supply chains, develop measurable goals and reporting structures, and communicate in a credible way with consumers about their products.


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