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More Canadian consumers seeking out green productsTuesday, July 29, 2014 > 10:15:43
Canadians are increasingly looking for green products and services, and many are even willing to pay more for them, but they may be selective on which they choose based on the strength of environmental claims.
The findings, which suggest an important shift to mainstream green purchasing practices, were collected in a survey on green purchasing behaviours and attitudes in Canada.
"The key takeaway for Canadian organizations is that 86 per cent of Canadians are buying green, so products and services with environmental claims are likely a fundamental driver in a customer's purchase decision," said Mike Kapalko, sustainability marketing manager for SCA's North American away-from-home professional hygiene business.
However, most of those purchasers look for third-party certification (33 per cent) or conduct their own research (24 per cent) to verify claims. This fact combined with the knowledge that their prime purchase driver is the care of the environment itself (48 per cent) rather than other motivations means organizations should showcase their environmental commitment beyond their direct business offer.
"It's not enough to say something is biodegradable or sustainable to keep ahead of the curve," said Kapalko. "If they haven't already, companies will need to determine how to incorporate meaningful sustainability strategies into their business and production practices. This could mean finding new suppliers with sustainable alternatives, or identifying operational areas of 'green improvement' that are cost effective and efficient."
Whether they are early adopters or just picking up on the trend, Canadians on the whole are strong believers in green products and services, with 43 per cent believing that it is just getting started, and 39 per cent believing it is the new norm.
Who are 'green shoppers?'
An interesting nuance in the Canadian study is found in the age and family demographics of "green shoppers." While surveys in other geographies indicate a strong propensity for Millennials (under 34) to lead the pack in adopting green purchasing habits, in Canada the survey results suggest that older green shoppers are more likely to do so because it is better for the environment (52 per cent of Canadians over 55 vs. 39 per cent of Canadians under 34).
In addition, households with children indicated a stronger likelihood to purchase green products and services (91 per cent) than the 84 per cent of respondents without children.
Shopping green and the economy
"A clearly optimistic finding of this survey is that 'green' products and services are no longer subjected to the forces of the economy," says Kapalko.
For most green consumers in Canada (60 per cent), the recent economic changes have had no effect on the amount of green products or services they purchase. Actually, one-in-five (19 per cent) green consumers have increased their green purchase habits, while only eight per cent have decreased that amount as a result of economic conditions.
Only one-in-six Canadians surveyed did not buy green products.
Canadians willingness to pay more for green
The green profile of products and services is scrutinized now more than ever by Canadians, 43 per cent of whom indicated they are more willing to pay more for products and services that are ethically and responsibly manufactured or delivered, to the tune of the following:
- 31 per cent would pay up to 10 per cent more;
- 10 per cent would pay 10 to 20 per cent more;
- two per cent would pay over 20 per cent more than they pay today.
These findings are tempered by income levels and education, as Canadians with household income under $40,000 are less willing to pay more for a product manufactured ethically (58 per cent vs. 40 per cent of Canadians with greater income).
The Tork Green Business survey was conducted online by Leger's OMNIWeb Canada between May 12 and 15 with a sample of 1,504 Canadians. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.