Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Recession or not, consumers still buying green

By Linda Chipperfield on April 20, 2009

Has the worst recession since World War II dampened consumer demand for green products? Not according to a study* commissioned by my organization, Green Seal, and our research partner, EnviroMedia Social Marketing, in January of this year.

We discovered that four of five consumers are still buying sustainable products despite the recession. That’s great news for manufacturers who have made the commitment to include sustainability in their cost-benefit analysis when planning new products. It’s proof that as a nation, our growing commitment to living more sustainably runs deeper than economic fears.

Half of the 1,000 people we surveyed said that they are buying just as many green products now as before the economic downturn, while 19 percent claimed to be buying more green products. Fourteen percent say they are buying fewer environmentally green products -- but are still buying green.

Now for the not-so-great news. Roughly one in three of the consumers surveyed said that they don’t know how to tell if green product claims are true. One in 10 consumers blindly trusts green product claims. 24% are verifying green claims by reading the packaging, but only 17% are going online to read studies and conduct their own investigations.

These results suggest the importance of third-party verification organizations like Green Seal. Green Seal, a nonprofit, has been certifying Green products for 20 years.

Here’s what our President and CEO Arthur Weissman had to say about the study: "This research suggests that consumers are buying green products second only to participating in recycling. This increased consumer demand sends a signal to manufacturers to produce products that are truly green.”

Additional survey results are available by contacting Kelli Johnson at EnviroMedia or Barbara Hodgson with Green Seal.

* -- The study was commissioned by Green Seal Inc. and EnviroMedia Social Marketing and was conducted by Opinion Research. Methodology: the telephone survey consisted of a national probability sample of 1,001 adults (500 men, 501 women), and was conducted in January of 2009. It was released in early February at the first Greenwashing Forum at the University of Oregon.