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    Buying Behavior Influenced by Environmental Attitudes, If Price Is Right

    Many prefer to buy locally grown, organic and 'green' products, but few will pay substantial more for going 'green.'

    NEW YORK -- Many millions of people -- from 18 percent to 39 percent of all adults -- say their purchasing behavior and other interactions with companies is sometimes influenced by environmental factors. However, only a very small minority is willing to pay substantially more for "green" products or goods produced by environmentally friendly companies.

    More than 30 percent of the more than 3,100 adults surveyed online by The Harris Poll between July 7 and Sept. 8 said they often or always purchase locally grown products or seek out and are willing to pay more for "green" products. One-fourth said environmental issues are very important to them when deciding what products to buy. But only a few people seek out and buy green products if they have to pay a lot more for them (2 percent) or say the cost doesn't matter (3 percent).

    Twenty-six percent of all adults say environmental issues are extremely or very important to them when deciding what products or services to buy and 18 percent prefer to do business with a "green" company. Nearly one-third (32 percent) say they seek out 'green" products and are willing to pay at least a little more for "green" products.

    The survey also found most people were taking some action, however modest, to limit their use of electricity, water or gasoline. While two-thirds (67 percent) of these people said they were doing this to benefit the environment, over half (55 percent) said they were doing this to save money.

    This Harris Poll divided the adult population into four segments based on how they described themselves in response to four different questions; these segments went from the least to the most "green." The "most green" segment, 22 percent of all adults, are far more likely to adopt environmentally-friendly activities. Fully 68 percent of the "most green" segment are willing to pay at least a little more for green products. Only 3 percent of the "least green" are willing to do so.

    Bottom line: "Green marketing" appeals to substantial numbers of consumers. Everything else being equal, many millions of people would prefer to buy products and services that are "green" or are produced by environmentally friendly companies. But, when push comes to shove, in these economic times especially, price usually trumps environmental factors.

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