It IS more expensive. And people are still buying.

It IS more expensive. And people are still buying.

We’ve been tracking perceptions of green product pricing for the last couple of years in our Eco Pulse study.  A little over three quarters of the population have told us over the last two years that green products always or sometimes cost more.

They’re right.

Our Associate Director of Research did some secret shopping recently to actually compare standard product pricing with green product pricing in a variety of product categories.  Here’s what she found:

The top product category in which consumers are searching for greener products (according to our Eco Pulse study) is home cleaning products.  And green cleaning products carry a price premium of 11-30%, depending on the brand. The price premium for organic foods and beverages (the number two category on consumers’ lists) is 23-118%, and the price premium for a hybrid car (the number one category in our Green Living Pulse study) is 18-43%.

Given the economy, it’s easy to assume the higher price tag would scare consumers off.  Even the green-leaning consumers we surveyed in Green Living Pulse told us their top concern by far was the economy (the environment came in a distant third).

Not true.

In Eco Pulse we tested a variety of price points for a variety of green features.  Depending on the product category, consumers said they were willing to pay between 28-78% more for a greener product, which jives with what we found in our shopping expedition.  Now, I’ve written at length about the whole saying-vs-doing phenomenon.  But actual purchase behaviors bear out that some consumers are willing to stomach the higher price. Clorox Greenworks now enjoys about a 40% share of the natural cleaning products market, with sales last year of about $200 million. Nielsen Co. reported a 5.6% year over year growth in organic food sales last December and a 10.9% growth in same-store sales at natural food stores.

So, don’t assume a green marketing strategy is out the window in this economy.  People will spend money on the things they care about.  And they care about their comfort, convenience, health and, in some cases, doing the right thing (for their grandchildren or the planet).  Pulling those emotional levers is the key to successful green marketing.

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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