Study Finds High and Low Income Shoppers Equally Likely to Buy Green


It’s appears to be a big time for green shopping surveys. Earlier this week we shared the results of a Cohn & Wolfe Green Brands survey that showed that the recession has not squashed consumers’ desire for green products. Another survey, this one conducted by Miller Zell, a retail consulting firm, dispels the notion that only well-heeled shoppers are willing to pay premiums for green products.
Miller Zell conducted an online survey of 999 consumers, with a portion of the questions devoted to their attitudes around products that are marketed as being green, or eco-friendly. Respondents were asked whether they would pay a premium for a green product, and then, if so, how much of a premium they’d pony up. Consumers fell into three income categories – high, middle and low – and while more low-income respondents said they were unwilling to pay any premium for green good than respondents in the other income categories, those low-income respondent who would pay a 10-cent premium outnumbered the middle and high income respondents who would pay that amount.

This ought to make marketers perk up. But what’s behind that high percentage? Miller Zell posits that it represents the large number of “Millennials” – the generation following Generation X, and whose members were born starting in the early 1980s – who are just now entering the workforce are therefore low income. An important characteristic of these newbie adults is a greater concern for the environmental causes, relative to older generations.
But it’s also important to note that their greater willingness to pay a premium for green products gets seriously tested once the premium exceeds a dime. Fewer low-income respondents were willing to pay 30, 50 or 70 extra cents for green products than those earning middle or high incomes. (These responses were all for a product with a base price of $2.49.)
The study also found that both men and women, in all income brackets, were more willing to buy green goods at mass merchandisers than at specialty stores or drug or convenience stores. And overall, respondents said they’re most likely to buy green products at grocery stores.
Sixty-two percent of respondents said that having green product options influences their unplanned purchase decisions.
Finally, the survey revealed a good appetite for more product information. That’s a sentiment also reflected in the Green Brands study, and one that Wal-Mart’s efforts to create a sustainability index may one day address – though initially the retailer plans to rate the sustainability of companies rather than products. On average, close to 40 percent of shoppers want more product information – and an even higher percentage of Millennial shoppers are dissatisfied with the available green product information.
You can download the full results of the Miller Zell study here.
Photo: Spooning.

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to

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