What the 'Green' Consumer Wants
What's the current attitude of the "green"-goods consumer in the downturn? And apart from general
economic conditions, what factors determine whether consumers do--or do not--buy green?
According to a research survey conducted by The Boston Consulting Group and an interview with
Catherine Roche, a coauthor of the BCG survey and report, consumers haven't abandoned green--but
have shifted emphasis among their reasons for pursuing it. "Before the crisis, green was about health
and safety, green was about savings, green was about things that are directly beneficial to you--and it's
still about that." Now, though, saving money is the dominant desire and benefit.
Supported by the research, Roche discusses several other main points in her interview:
(1) Price is not the obstacle when consumers consider green purchases; (2) green programs motivate
and engage employees; and (3) companies are reluctant to publicize their green (or sustainability)
efforts for fear they'll be accused of "greenwashing."
This feature is culled from a special online exploration thread at sloanreview.mit.edu, and includes
outtakes from a dozen additional short interviews with executives, as well as a longer interview with
George Kern, head of the luxury watch maker IWC International Watch Co. It also contains infographics
assessing which factors are likeliest to prevent a consumer from buying green. The biggest? "Awareness"--the fact that consumers are often unaware of green product alternatives.