Market News

 February 26, 2007
Consumers will switch to be green - Survey

 Toronto, Canada (GLOBE-Net) -- Two-thirds of consumers say they are likely to switch their spending to companies that have demonstrated a commitment to green policies, according to a survey conducted by Environics Research Group.

The poll, released by Ontario renewable energy provider Bullfrog Power, shows that at least in principle, consumers are likely to switch to companies that demonstrate good environmental performance. According to Bullfrog, the poll "prove(s) what many suspected is true: Canadian consumers are more attracted to companies that have clearly shown a commitment to a cleaner, greener environment."

In the survey of more than 1,000 Canadians conducted February 7-14, 67 per cent said they are likely to switch to banks, stores and other retail or service outlets that have demonstrated their commitment to the environment. In British Columbia and Alberta, consumers are most likely to make the switch, with 7 in 10 responding that they would move their business, followed by Ontario at 68 per cent and Quebec at 64 per cent.

Three quarters of those surveyed said they are likely to change their own shopping habits to purchase more environmentally friendly goods and services, even if it means paying a premium price. Regionally, British Columbians were the most likely to change, at 83 per cent, followed by Ontarians at 78 per cent and Albertans at 75 per cent.

"We're seeing a fundamental shift in consumer behavior that reflects the increased mainstreaming of environmental consciousness," said Michael Adams, president of the Environics group.

The poll also found women consumers (80 per cent) were more likely than men (69 per cent) to change their shopping habits in favour of environmentally friendly goods and services.

Consumer interest in green companies did not vary between different income levels, however.

The Environics Research Group national survey was conducted among 1,013 Canadians and is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20. Survey data is weighted to replicate actual population distribution by age and sex according to most recent 2001 Census data.

The complete survey results are available here (PDF).

The power of green consumerism

In recent years, environmentally conscious and well informed consumers have driven increased demand for sustainable products and services, and the power of their spending choices is changing not only the way companies operate, but also what they bring to the marketplace.

Increasingly, consumers also want to know what went into the products they are buying, and where they will end up. As this recent poll and others indicate, given the choice, many will select clothing produced using earth-friendly materials such as organic cotton and foods produced without the use of harmful pesticides that pollute waterways. Organic foods and 'green' household goods used to be considered niche products, but have now become staples in mainstream markets.

Green consumerism began to pick up steam in the early 1990s, just when the term 'sustainable development' was gaining currency and global environmental issues moved to the front pages of newspapers around the world. The number of products made from recycled or recyclable content began to rise and 'organic' or 'natural' became buzzwords in local supermarkets.

Since then green consumerism has evolved, both in niche and mainstream markets. When given the choice, consumers will take environmental issues into account in making their purchasing decisions.

Green consumers are changing the way products and services are marketed, and as this trend continues environmental and social concerns will become so embedded in the marketplace they will be part of every purchasing decision. The impacts of this green shift will be widespread, lowering the environmental impacts of many products and encouraging an entire generation of consumers to consider the ethical and environmental aspects of their purchasing decisions.