Survey: Consumers Willing to Buy Green Products, but only if Saving Money
The recession is causing consumers to value saving money over saving the environment.
Although worried about the economy, consumers are willing to buy energy-efficient products and services – but only if they see immediate savings, according to a national survey released today.
The survey found that 71 percent of consumers cited saving money as a reason to buy energy-efficient products. Far fewer chose “to protect the environment” (55 percent) and “to protect the quality of life for future generations” (49 percent).
“Americans are concerned about their jobs, their homes and their bank accounts. They’re now more focused on saving money than saving the Amazon,” said Suzanne Shelton, president of The Shelton Group, which conducted the study. “Yes, conserving energy is the greenest thing anybody can do, but consumers are not buying more efficient products because they want to save the world. They want products that can save them money in the long run.”
This year’s results are a notable change from the surveys conducted by The Shelton Group in 2006 and 2007 – before the recession – when consumers cited “to protect the environment” most often.
According to the survey, consumers said they are likely to take a number of energy-efficient measures after learning they would save over the long term. Among them:
“Now more than ever, Americans have a deep desire to be in charge of their lives,” Shelton said. “And seeing utility bills go down $10 to $20 a month brings a lot of peace of mind. It’s a huge motivator.”
The Shelton Group study isn’t the first one to reveal this trend.
Last month, a study conducted by the research firm Mintel revealed that the number of Americans who say they almost always or regularly buy green products remained unchanged since last year, at 36%. This comes after tripling the previous year (from 12% in 2007 to 36% in 2008, according to Mintel consumer survey data).
In other consumer surveys, Mintel uncovered similar hesitance towards buying green based on price. Consumers seem to be showing their tendency to save cash over going green.
The Shelton study also showed that consumers want results when they buy energy-efficient products, and they are disappointed if they do not see the return on investment they expected:
“A lot of us buy a box of Snackwells and think, ‘They’re low fat, so I can eat all of them.’ Then we wonder why we haven’t lost weight,” Shelton said. “Buying an energy-efficient product can create the same type of effect. We’ll say, ‘I just got a high-efficiency air conditioner, I can lower the temp and make my home even cooler in the summer.’ Then we get frustrated that our new air conditioner isn’t reducing our utility bills.
“That’s why it’s important that utilities and energy-efficient product manufacturers make sure consumers understand what they’re getting and promote behavior change alongside product purchases,” Shelton added. “A high-efficiency heater doesn’t mean we can turn our home into sauna in the winter.”
The survey also found consumers are taking a variety of “green” measures. Here are the – top activities and percentage of consumers taking the action: