Contrary to analysts’ forecasts, the global trade in “green” products continues to grow strongly, according to Alibaba.com. Predictions that collapsing banks and financial markets, along with widespread recession would prompt consumers to cut back spending on green products are proving to be way off-base, at least when it comes to traffic running through their Internet platform, according to the Hong Kong-based B2B e-commerce provider.
Searches for alternative fuel and power–such as solar and wind power systems, electric cars and bio-diesel–as well as organic products of all types continued to increase steadily during the latter part of 2008 and through the first quarter of 2009, according to Alibaba.com data.
Oil prices spiking as high as $147 a barrel in Q3 2008 led to a surge in searches for renewable energy products, which rose 67% on a year-to-year basis. Even more encouraging, interest in green products has continued into 2009. Solar power energy and organic products were the fastest growing segments on Alibaba.com in this year’s first quarter, increasing 71% and 68%, respectively.
Green Light for Green Products
Solar powered lighting is among the “hottest green items” being sold online as countries in Europe as well as the US have launched programs to replace traditional street lights with solar-powered alternatives, the e-commerce provider reported.
Apparently, growing demand for less polluting, more energy efficient lighting is not only coming as a result of government programs. Businesses and factories are also moving forward with plans to make use of “green” lighting alternatives. Lower power consumption means lower power costs, and that’s what’s driving demand in the private sector, Alibaba posits.
“Despite the downturn, online trade in environmentally friendly products is holding up well. This is because going green not only saves money but also creates money, especially as more entrepreneurs develop innovative products to support growing global demand,” Alibaba.com CEO David Wei said in a news release.
“Also, many consumer-based green options, such as switching to solar lights, both make economic sense and protect the environment. Entrepreneurs and SMEs are realizing that green is good business, as long as there is a fiscal motivation as well as an environmental one.”
Green Stimulus in Effect
Large-scale green stimulus spending on the part of governments in the US and China, as well as the EU, is not only directly driving demand, new government regulations to mitigate and adapt to actual and potential climate change are spurring private sector compliance efforts as well as prompting them to ramp up voluntary actions.
“Around US$30 billion of China’s huge stimulus package is to be invested in energy conservation and ecological engineering. These large scale projects are going to have a major impact in driving awareness of green power and the desire for smaller-scale eco-friendly alternatives will escalate significantly, if not exponentially.
“Green is one of the new opportunities for entrepreneurs around the world, and e-commerce is clearly going to be the platform through which a significant amount of that business is conducted,” Wei concluded.