Thursday, March 19, 2009

Green Product Purchasing Up for Fifth Straight Year

Green products continue to gain traction despite the current recession, according to the latest IRI Times & Trends Report tracking purchasing trends in the consumer packaged goods industry.The popularity of eco-friendly, organic, and fairtrade products has increased each year for the past five years as more shoppers factor in the environmental impact of the products they buy, the report finds.

While the most environmentally focused consumers held steady in their green product spending last year, the report chalks up the flat sales to the fact that these consumers have already "saturated their [shopping] baskets with sustainable products." The next greenest consumers haven't yet tapped out their adoption of new green products, increasing spending on these items by 15%.

"Because green products are considered to be more expensive than 'traditional' products, it would be natural to think that as the economy plunged into recession, prices rose and people lost their jobs, the sale of sustainable products would plummet," says Thom Blischok, president of innovation and consulting at IRI. "However, the truth is much more nuanced. CPG marketers need to understand the level of 'greenness' and mindsets for each consumer segment to really create a clear picture of opportunity."

The IRI report identifies eight green consumer segments, encouraging marketers to understand their core values and align product assortment and merchandising programs accordingly:

Eco-Centrics are the most well-informed and actively involved in environmental issues. They are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products.

Respectful Stewards are idealistic and community focused. They are also willing to pay for more eco-friendly products.

Proud Traditionalists are hard-working and focused on family. They run environmentally responsible homes and experiment with eco-friendly products.

Frugal Earth Mothers are lower-income women looking for ways to save money wherever possible. They are more focused finding good, wholesome products for their families.

Skeptical Individualists are highly-educated, high-income men who tend to be skeptical about corporate green initiatives.

Eco-Chics are young adults who see green as new and hip. Impulse buyers and early adopters, they tend to be drawn to environmental causes but aren't necessarily well-informed about them.
Green Naives are young, lower-income shoppers with little interest in environmental responsibility.

Eco-Villians - generally middle-income men - do not environmental concerns into their purchasing choices.

"Certainly, some consumers are not spending money on green products, but others are actually maintaining or increasing green spending," Blischok says. "A viable green market remains, even in these challenging times; the key is to understand different consumer segments and create messages and products that meet their varied needs."

Download the report, "Sustainability: CPG Marketing in a Green World," here (free registration required).

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