Price, Performance Still Obstacles to Increased Sales of Green Products

OAKLAND, CA — U.S. consumers cite price and performance as the principal reasons for not buying more green products, according to the monthly Green Confidence Index.

The Index, which is derived from a monthly online survey of approximately 2,500 Americans aged 18 and over, measures Americans' attitudes towards and confidence in how leaders and institutions are perceived to be addressing environmental issues, the adequacy of information available to them to make informed decisions, and their past and future purchases of green products.

The Index's three components include:

• Responsibility: Who's "doing enough" -- and who's not?
• Information: Is enough information available and for what types of decisions?
• Purchasing: Is green purchasing continuing, accelerating or declining?

The overall index reflected a continued upward trend over the past quarter, from 102.8 to 106.5, a 3.6 percent increase in three months. The rise was spurred in large part by a jump in the Purchasing component -- which measures intended purchases for the coming year as well as actual purchases for the past year -- which rose more than 10 percent over the past quarter.

The latest monthly survey results shine a light on what consumers say would be needed for them to increase their purchases of environmental products in three categories: food, personal or household care, and apparel. For food and personal/household care products, the leading answer was price: it needs to be lower. For apparel, "performance" ranked highest, which for this category refers to style.

"Across all categories, there is a need for manufacturers and retailers to educate consumers and explain how it's better for them and the environment," says Wendy Cobdra, CEO & Co-founder of Earthsense, one of three partners in producing the Index. "In addition to better explanations, consumers also want ads and labels to better help them identify green products."

The need for better education on green products was underscored by the fact that "information" ranked highly for all three product categories in terms of consumer needs.

"The economy, of course, leads the list, but so does consumer confusion about the definition of green products and their value-added benefits," observes John Davies, Vice President of GreenBiz Intelligence, another partner in the Index. "Of course, consumers want it all. More realistically, consumer priorities on green purchases differ from category to category, as we show this month."

The Green Confidence Index is a partnership of three leading business information services companies: GreenBiz.com, part of Greener World Media, which also produces research reports and events on the greening of mainstream business; Earthsense, an applied marketing company that produces Eco-Insights, the largest syndicated survey of U.S. consumers' attitudes and behaviors toward the environment and sustainability; and Survey Sampling International, the world's largest provider of multi-mode survey research sampling solutions.

The Index is a subscription-based service. Annual subscriptions are $499, with charter subscriptions available at $299. More information and a sample copy of the monthly briefing can be downloaded at www.greenconfidenceindex.com.