Organic Buying, Other Behaviors Have Gone Mainstream – But Green Purchasing Still Faces Price Barriers, According to New GfK Report

Green also going digital: 29% of smartphone owners
use apps to reduce their environmental impact

Green also going digital: 29% of smartphone owners
use apps to reduce their environmental impact

New York, NY (September 24, 2012): New GfK Green Gauge® research finds that key aspects of "green” culture – from organic purchase to recyclability – have gone mainstream in ways that few could have imagined 20 years ago. US consumers are turning to digital devices for environmental learning and to share their green experiences. But, at a time of slow economic recovery, paying significantly more to be environmentally friendly simply doesn’t compute for most people.

The study shows that 73% of US consumers have purchased a product made from organic materials in the past 12 months. Categories that have seen notable increases since 2007 in organic buying include food, household cleaning, apparel, and pet food and supplies.

In addition, 93% of Americans say they have done something to conserve energy in their households in the past year, and 77% have done something to save household water during the same timeframe.

Digital media are helping to amplify this green awareness; 29% of smartphone users have turned to an app in the past year to help reduce their environmental impact – a figure that jumps to 44% for Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) and 38% for Generation Y (ages 23 to 32).  Most-cited types of apps used include public transportation timetables and home energy monitors.

In addition, 18% of consumers say that social networking sites are a "major source” of green information for them (up four points from 2011), with another 33% citing it as a "minor source.”

But green awareness and engagement do not necessarily translate to green purchase. Compared to 2008, the proportion of US consumers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives has gone down in a variety of key areas -- from cars that are less polluting to the air (down from 62% to 49%) to energy efficient lightbulbs (down from 70% to 60%).

"Green awareness is indeed pervasive – but consumers can perceive ‘green’ claims as a negative in some contexts,” said Timothy Kenyon, Director for the Green Gauge survey. "For example, while terms like organic and recyclable have strong positive resonance, they are often associated with higher prices. Understanding consumers’ triggers and the limits of their commitment to green action is essential for marketers and researchers alike.”

The Green Gauge® Report is the only nationwide, long-term syndicated study of consumer attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. Green Gauge gives marketers an exclusive look at how America’s concern for environmental issues can affect brands and organizations. This comprehensive report provides insight into consumers’ attitudes and buying behavior, informing strategic plans and the execution of marketing campaigns.

To learn more about the Green Gauge Report, contact Hallie Gittleman at

This story has been featured in an article in Advertising Age.

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