Consumers who say they are concerned about the environment are not always likely to follow through by purchasing environmentally sound goods, according to a new study from market researcher Information Resources Inc.
Two groups of consumers, known as eco-centrics and eco-chics, are key segments in the eco-friendly market, but they show extremely different behavioral patterns when it comes to paying for green goods, IRI said.
Eco-centrics are described as high-income, educated urbanites actively doing their part to protect and improve the environment. They have shown a willingness to change their buying behavior and a commitment to using environmentally friendly products.
On the other hand, eco-chic consumers, comprised of younger, more trend-influenced consumers, appear to be more interested in "riding the wave of environmental consciousness" by claiming to embrace environmental concerns, but not following through.
Eco-chic consumers did show a willingness to try some green products at a comparable rate to the eco-centrics, but unlike the eco-centrics, they ultimately returned to their favorite non-green brands.
In contrast the eco-centrics tend to follow through on their environmental beliefs with purchases of eco-friendly products and continued to purchase these products, illustrating their long-term environmental commitment.
"While certain green conscious consumers do make a concerted effort to buy green products, there are certain segments of the population that are environmentally sensitive but that does not necessarily translate into their actual behavior," Robert Tomei, IRI president of consumer and shopper insights, said in a statement.
He added that the challenge that manufacturers and retailers now face is to fully understand the nuances of green consumers and how to market to them effectively, especially given the economic climate.
"It will be increasingly more challenging for many consumers to incorporate their sensitivity to the environment into their actual behavior, particularly for those green products that may cost more to purchase," he said.