Harris Interactive found that while concern and awareness around environmental issues has slipped since 2009, it has not affected how consumers say environmental issues influence their purchasing behavior. Young adults are the exception – those18 to 24, are actually more likely to consider the environment in their spending now than than before.
Adults between the ages of 18 and 24 show the biggest change in shopping behavior when it comes to environmental awareness and responsibility:
- 35 percent said they are willing to pay extra for a green product, an increase from 27 percent in 2010 and 25 percent in 2009.
- Although just 4 percent of all U.S. adults seek out green products and services regardless of the cost—virtually unchanged from 3 percent in 2010 and 2009 – 18- to 24-year-olds are at 11 percent, far above the 3 percent rate in 2010 and 2009.
- However, 51 percent of this youngest adult age group said they are not willing to pay extra for green products.
Among total adults, however, the survey found that consumers are now less likely to do each of the following activities in their daily life:
- Reuse things they have instead of throwing them away or buying new items (65 percent in 2009 vs. 61 percent in 2012).
- Make an effort to use less water (60 percent in 2009 vs. 57 percent in 2010 and 2012).
- Buy food in bulk (33 percent in 2009 vs. 30 percent in 2012).
- Purchase all-natural products (18 percent in 2009 vs. 16 percent in 2012); and Purchase organic products (17 percent in 2009 vs. 15 percent in 2010 and 2012).
A quarter of U.S. adults (26 percent) said that environmental issues are either “extremely” or “very” important to them when deciding which products or services to purchase. This number remains consistent across gender, geography, education and income, according to the study. The percentage has moved little over the years: 27 percent of U.S. adults said environmental issues were extremely or very important to their purchasing decisions in 2010 and 26 percent said the same in 2009.
Americans also show a preference for products and services that are “green,” with 79 percent seeking out green products, slightly up from 78 percent in 2010 and 76 percent in 2009. Additionally, 31 percent of U.S. adults said they are willing to pay extra for a green product, up from 28 percent in 2010. Thirty-two percent said the same in 2009.
More than 2,451 U.S. adults aged 18 and older were polled for this survey.