Gwynne Rogers's Blog

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 by

While it seems like every time we turn around there is a new green something-or-other on the market – which would make us think these are moving in a more sustainable direction – consumers’ perceptions of eco-friendly products are actually moving in the wrong direction.  NMI’s annual LOHAS Consumer Trends Database® (LCTD) keeps a pulse of how consumer sentiment and behavior change on a yearly basis.  One noticeable trend from the 2012 LCTD is that negative perceptions of environmentally-friendly products is keeping an increasing number of consumers out of the market, even while more people know about them, and know where to buy them.

% U.S. general population adults indicating which of the following prevents them from using environmentally-friendly products/services


Consumers always complain about price, regardless of product or industry.  But, with specific regard to environmentally-friendly products, consumers are increasingly price sensitive, particularly since 2008 (shown above and in other NMI data).  In fact, cost as a barrier to buying environmentally-friendly products is up 14% annually since 2005. 

These data show that we are past the point of being able to charge more for green products!  We have to make the value and benefits clear to consumers – saving the planet is not reason enough to charge more.  In addition, consumers perceive that environmentally-friendly products do not work as well as consumers’ regular products.  So, in effect, consumers feel like they’re being asked to pay more for a product that underperforms. 

While consumers feel more knowledgeable about environmentally-friendly products (no small achievement), demonstrating the value – through a three-pronged approach of continuing to drive cost down, improving quality, and communicating other benefits such as safe around kids and pets – must happen for the green marketplace to continue to grow. 


For more insights like these, visit  NMI is an international strategic marketing consultancy specializing in health, wellness and sustainability since 1990 with full service consulting and market research services.