Winning the Eco-Friendly Consumer & Understanding Green Consumerism
Nearly one in three consumers are considered Eco-Friendly and they–as well as their Mainstream counterparts–are increasingly asking brands to deliver more sustainable products and initiatives.
As climate change continues to be a top-of-mind issue, “shopping green” has moved from the fringe to the mainstream. Today’s Eco-Friendly consumers represent an awesome buying power and their thirst for greener products extends beyond the cash register, as they demand their favorite business brands “walk the walk” by supporting more sustainable initiatives.
Nearly One in Three Consumers Are Considered Eco-Friendly
More than one in three (34%) consumers are now considered Eco-Friendly, according to Numerator’s report “Winning the Eco-Driven Consumer,” and that number is expected to keep growing. The purchasing power of the green consumer has skyrocketed. Eco-Friendly consumers represent more than 44 million households and drive nearly $1.3 trillion in annual spending.
Green Consumer Behavior
There are many shades of green when it comes to eco-friendly buying habits, but respondents largely self-identified in three overarching lifestyle categories:
- “Purchasing and using products that have been manufactured using sustainable methods thereby protecting the environment..”
- “Being conscious of the products I purchase and use on a daily basis to do as little or no harm to myself and the planet. To leave as little trace of myself behind.”
- “Sustainable, recyclable and reusable. Making the earth a cleaner and better place.”
Beyond ideology, Eco-Friendly and Mainstream shoppers are also taking specific actions to reduce their carbon footprint. More than half of all respondents (Eco-Friendly and Mainstream) say that in the past 12 months, they have:
- Participated in a recycling program
- Brought their own bag for grocery shopping
- Washed their laundry in cold water
In the past year, Eco-Friendly consumers are also more likely to have:
- Purchased products with less packaging
- Switched to reusable or rechargeable products
- Purchased plant-based cleaning products
- Reduced animal-based product consumption
- Purchased environmentally friendly appliance
- Purchased plant-based laundry products
- Switched to a more eco-friendly vehicle
Who Are Eco-Friendly Consumers?
Today’s green shoppers bear little resemblance to the tie-dye-wearing activists who started the green movement more than a half decade ago. Eco-Friendly consumers, when compared to their mainstream counterparts, are more likely to be:
- Urban affluent or urban middle class
- In the 18-34 and 65+ age groups
- Ethnically diverse, especially African American, Asian and Hispanic
- Well-educated: A high level of Eco-Friendly consumers have four-year college degrees or graduate school degrees.
Eco-Friendly consumers participate in a diversity of personal hobbies and activities, and they are likely to be found volunteering, supporting the arts, and enjoying the great outdoors in such pursuits as yoga, running, hiking, biking and canoeing and kayaking. Not surprisingly, they are also far more likely than Mainstream consumers to take public transit, walk or ride their bikes, and drive hybrid or electric vehicles.
What Green Products Do Eco-Friendly Consumers Buy?
In general, Eco-Friendly consumers purchase more healthy food products, water hydration and gardening items. They especially index higher than Mainstream consumers in buying such products as kombucha, fresh meat alternatives, fish, pea/bean/vegetable snacks, herbal supplements, water cooler or filter products, and plant food.
On the other hand, they are far less likely than Mainstream consumers to purchase cooking bags, pre-made meal kits for kids, straws, foam packaging, automotive air fresheners, snack variety packs and air freshener candles and waxes.
Beyond the Buy: Consumers Demand Greener Initiatives
Brands would do well to notice the greening of buyer habits, as today’s consumers are also demanding brands step up. Eco-Friendly consumers, especially, want to do business with brands who drive earth-friendly initiatives.
Nine out of ten Eco-Friendly consumers say they are aware of at least some of their brands’ eco-friendly practices. Interestingly, Mainstream consumers aren’t far behind, with eight in ten reporting an awareness of brand’s sustainability efforts. What’s more, nearly 70% of Eco-Friendly shoppers and 50% of Mainstream consumers say they would be more likely to purchase from a brand making eco-friendly strides and/or investing in eco-friendly or eco-branded packaging.
Eco-friendly packaging is especially important to Eco-Friendly consumers. Using biodegradable packaging will most likely have the most impact in driving consumers to shop green, but packaging that describes its environmental impact and packaging that includes information on how the product is sourced or manufactured is also likely to drive more purchases by Eco-Friendly consumers.
Greenwashing No More
Today’s consumers are also looking beyond packaging at other sustainable practices. Both Eco-Friendly and Mainstream consumers said they would be more likely to make a purchase if the company were making eco-friendly strides, including
- Reducing product waste
- Locally sourcing products / reducing transportation footprint
- Reducing the carbon footprint of the product
- Energy efficiency in production
For brands looking to attract motivated and growing Eco-Friendly consumers, they will need to stay ahead of the curve, both in developing sustainable products and reducing the carbon footprint of product packaging.
For more insights into the eco-friendly consumer, download the full report. If you’re considering new eco-friendly packaging concepts, Numerator can help. Numerator’s Instant Survey explores consumer perceptions and gathers feedback.
Ask your Numerator consultant about ways to win these Eco-Friendly consumers, and how to better market your brand to meet the needs of a rapidly growing audience.