Is The Green Consumer Fading?

Green consumerism and sustainability are practices that many observers believe are not the latest fad. The U.S. recession, a more truly global economy, and a highly connected world have been contributors to the spread of Green. However, results of a recent Harris Poll provide evidence that attitudes toward environmentally responsible consumption appear to have lost momentum in becoming a priority for Americans. Among the findings that point to a fade in Green attitudes:

• 36% of those surveyed said they were concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations compared with 43% in 2009.
• 36% said they personally care about the current and future state of the environment, down from 34% last year.
• 29% said they are environmentally conscious, down 1% from 2099.

Fewer adults holding Green attitudes contradicts the notion that the “me” generation of the indulgent consumer is evolving into a “we” generation that weighs the impact of consumption decisions on future generations. At the same time, it would be premature to signal an end of the Green consumer. Several economic indicators point to the effects of the recession easing. It is possible that some consumers are reverting back to previous attitudes and behaviors as their personal situations improve. We can look at reactions to gasoline prices and observe similar patterns. When gas prices have risen to their highest levels, more consumers cut back on driving, more interest exists for fuel efficient vehicles, and electric and hybrid vehicles are in vogue. As prices recede, attitudes and behavior return for the most part.

Momentum for the Green movement has slowed, but not disappeared. In the same survey, more adults labeled themselves as “a conservationist” (20%, up 3 points) “green” (18%, up 5 points), and “environmentalist” (16%, up 3 points). Results of the survey suggest that a segment exists of adults committed to promoting environmentally friendly consumption. The challenge is to spread the adoption of this mindset. Evidence exists that younger consumers are more likely to hold green attitudes. The question is whether we can bide our time and allow Green consumerism to gradually take root, or should green education initiatives become a higher priority for businesses, advocacy groups, and governments?

Marketing Charts - "Fewer Americans Go Green"

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