Green Becoming a 'Tiebreaker' in Shopping Decisions, Survey Finds

Green product attributes are evolving into an important brand differentiator for consumers and can serve as a tiebreaker for shoppers evaluating similar products, according to results of a new study from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Deloitte.

The organizations intercepted more than 6,400 consumers while shopping at 11 national chains and found more than half consider green attributes in their purchasing decisions. But there's a big gap, however, between what they're finding and actually buying. Less than half of the shoppers who looked for green products, for example, actually found them, and only 22 percent of those surveyed bought green products.

Although green attributes can sway shoppers, it's not enough to put green products on the shelf, according to Brian Lynch, the director of sales and sales promotion at the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

"We have to better educate consumers and leverage in-store communication to make the sale," Lynch said.

The survey, "Finding the Green in Today's Shoppers: Sustainability Trends and New Shopper Insights," separated shoppers into five broad categories: about 2 percent of the respondents in the survey were classified as "committed," or those who buy based on sustainability attributes whenever possible; 18 percent said they are "proactive" and weigh environmental factors with other values most of the time; sustainable products "influence" 34 percent of respondents when all other things are equal.

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A third of shoppers were neutral or unsure about these attributes. Thirteen percent of shoppers rejected or didn't know about sustainability considerations.

According to the survey, it makes the most sense to target the "proactive," "influenced" and "unsure" categories of shoppers for marketing. Green shoppers come with many desirable characteristics: they are loyal, less price sensitive and tend to shop more frequently.

However, a new Havas Media study of more than 20,000 consumers found most are skeptical of green marketing claims despite their interest in purchasing environmentally responsible goods and services, the New York Times reported.

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This article was reproduced with the kind permission of The World Business Council of Sustainable Development (WBCSD).  For more news and information visit www.wbcsd.org.

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