NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

"Green" Doesn't Sell

March 6, 2002

After a decade of trying to sell their wares under environmentally-friendly advertising banners, many consumer-products makers have come to the conclusion that "green" appeals don't motivate potential purchasers to buy.

  • Some 41 percent of consumers say they don't purchase green products because they fear the products won't work as well, according to market researchers RoperASW.
  • Shoppers will pay for convenience much more readily than for ideology, marketing experts report -- for example the 70 percent of baby food shoppers who said they'd rather have plastic than glass jars.
  • Recycling rates for plastic soda bottles are about one-third of what they were in 1995 -- and the number of single-serve bottles on the shelves more than doubled to 18 billion in 2000.
  • In 1995, some 15,000 products marketed claimed environmental benefits -- but today only 29 percent of shoppers have recently bought a product because advertising on the label claimed it was environmentally safe or biodegradable.

Younger and wealthier Americans are more likely to be swayed by green advertising. But even their ranks are reportedly dwindling.

Source: Geoffrey A. Fowler, "'Green' Sales Pitch Isn't Moving Many Products," Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2002.


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