New Research Identifies ‘Green’ Consumer Types

NORTH OLMSTED, OH— If you thought green was a trend primarily embraced by Generations X and Y, think again. Indeed, the green demographic crosses all age groups, according to new consumer research conducted by Moen, Inc., the plumbing products manufacturer based here.

Rather than age, it appears that key values and financial status are defining characteristics in determining consumers’ level of interest in green products, according to the Moen report, which was presented at a recent Sustainability Roundtable in New York City.

Additionally, the report showed that consumers are more likely to choose green products when the products offer both long-term value (energy savings, durability, high quality) and proof of greenness (third-party certification).

The study divided consumers into four groups based on their level of eco-consciousness. By observing consumer buying behaviors, the study identified key buying motivations for each group, as well as major purchasing drivers.
According to the study, each group is distinctive, both in its interest in green and its key values.

Dark Greens

The first group, labeled “Dark Greens,” are the most eco-conscious, and are motivated by a sense of responsibility to the planet. Dark Greens come from all age groups, and tend to be from the mid to upper economic levels, according to the report. Key values for this group were identified as a belief in the green movement, a strong sense of community and personal pride.

Medium Greens

Medium Greens, the next most eco-aware group, have a heightened consciousness of green issues, and include young parents concerned about protecting the earth for their children and grandchildren, as well as protecting their families from toxins and other chemicals. Affluent greenies also fall into this designation. Again, this group encompasses all ages, according to Moen’s research, which identifies key values for this group as hope, convenience and prevention.

Light Greens

Less eco-conscious are the Light Greens, who include the uber-urbans, emerging middle class and 20-something city dwellers. Many of the Light Greens embrace the eco-friendly movement because it’s trendy. “Green is the new cool” seems to be this group’s motto. However, this group tends to be somewhat cost sensitive, so pricing will be critical in determining whether or not they buy green. Key values for this group include thrift, practicality, self-expression and status.

Non-Greens

The last group includes “Non-Greens,” which, again, span all age groups. Non-Greens tend to be focused on survival (the income challenged) or material gain (the newly affluent), the survey says. This group’s key values include stability, security, choice and entitlement.

Each group also has different purchasing drivers, the report notes. For instance, Dark Greens are driven by products that are eco-friendly but effective; Medium Greens will assess value against price point, and are motivated by products that make it easy for them to go green. Eco-chic design and affordable pricing are drivers for the Light Greens, while Non-Greens simply want the best product for the cheapest price.

Value Matters

So, how can kitchen and bath professionals use these consumer profiles to increase their sale of green products and services? While the green movement is clearly growing, one of the key issues with advancing eco-consciousness is the cost associated with going green. Green experts generally estimate that designing a green kitchen or bath will cost approximately 10% more than a non-green one. And in a challenging economy where consumers are more value-oriented than ever, convincing consumers to pay more for green products might seem like an impossible task.

But the Moen research points out that it’s not just price that drives consumers, but value. Products that conserve water, save energy or provide a healthier living environment offer tangible selling points.

Likewise, certifications that prove a product’s greenness add value to the product. As the report noted, “Eco certifications for product design, building and more are distinguishing the genuinely green from the poseurs. Label-reading consumers want proof of what they’re paying for.”

Additionally, it should be noted that there’s a certain intrinsic value in going green, whether it comes from an interest in the planet or a desire for the status associated with green’s chic factor.

In fact, when Moen asked consumers, “If a retailer raised prices to be more environmentally friendly, would you pay more?” a surprising 39% said that they would.

Additionally, while consumers surveyed rated convenient location, low prices, selection of products and customer service as higher priorities than a firm’s environmental consciousness, the good news for green enthusiasts is that more than half (52%) still rated a firm’s eco-consciousness as “very” or “somewhat” important, compared to 32% who were neutral, and only 16% who said this was not very important.

Ultimately, the report notes, successfully selling green is about offering “greenvenience.” As the report concludes, “Consumers expect convenient and no-sacrifice products that make it easier to be green.”

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