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Shoppers once selected products based simply on price or brand, but now attributes such as whether goods are “sustainable, ” “climate-friendly, ” “green, ” and “eco-friendly” are readily becoming part of the consideration. The particular latest  IAG New Zealand Ipsos poll   found, for example, that while climate change is “not the top concern for the particular public currently, more than half [of survey respondents said that they] worry about it regularly, including about the impacts of weather change that we are already seeing at home and abroad. ” At the same time, an IBM survey found that more than 2 in 3 global respondents say that “environmental issues are  significantly (very or extremely) important to them personally, ” and 84 percent consider “sustainability” to be important when choosing a brand.

Despite prevailing attitudes of consumers to prioritize sustainability plus environmental good,   research   continues to show that few consumers who report positive attitudes toward eco-friendly items actually follow through with their wallets and pay more with regard to “sustainable” goods, which may help to explain the enduring demand regarding fast fashion and other mass-market products.  

Green, eco-friendly, climate-friendly products — confused?

With such sustainability concerns within mind, it is hardly surprising that a growing number of brands are flooding the market with very-specifically-marketed goods. For instance, use of the word “ green ” is applied broadly in order to almost everything related to benefiting the environment, from production plus transportation to architecture and even  fashion items.   “ Eco-friendly ”  – which is not quite so broad plus defines products or practices that do not harm the Earth’s environment – is slapped on everything through beauty items to dishwashing soaps.   Meanwhile, “ climate-friendly ”  is used in order to define items that reduce damage specifically to the environment.  

All these terms – most of which lack legal definitions and which are used interchangeably by brands – are used in labelling to make us feel good if we buy products claimed to minimize harm to the planet and the environment. Some brands are even moving beyond just eco-friendly and now seek to claim their products are   “ climate-neutral . ”

Who says it is up to standard?

While companies are increasingly using environmental claims to appeal in order to consumers, they also  attract greater scrutiny. Concerned about allegations of  greenwashing   – i. e., claiming that a product is “sustainable” when it is not really or that it is “greener” than it actually is, many brands are usually turning to organizations, this kind of as  Climate Neutral ,   Foundation Myclimate , and members of the  Global Ecolabelling Network ,   to legitimize their claims, and thereby, avoid large scale public relations scandals.  

For instance, the  climatop   label, as developed by Myclimate, certifies items that generate significantly less greenhouse gas than comparable products. The carbon footprints of the certified products are based on international standards ( ISO 14040 ) plus verified by an independent expert. Environmental Choice New Zealand   is the official environmental label body that awards certificates and lists environmentally friendly products intended for green homes or businesses. Products must meet similar standards ( INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG 14020   and  ISO 14024 ).   Good Environmental Option Australia   is a similar organization.

Third-party certifications may assist brands in order to navigate this space, but as indicated by the widespread pushback against the Higg Index (including a Norwegian Consumer Agency’s move to take issue with H& M’s use of the particular standard to rate environment and social sustainability throughout the supply chain, arguing that the index was insufficient in order to support its environmental claims), such certifications are not without issue.

A willingness to pay more for “sustainable” products

For years, researchers have examined  climate-oriented consumption   to see if this actually wins consumer support. Reports, such as  Nielsen Insights ,   suggest the majority (73 percent) of people would change their usage habits in order to reduce their own impact on the particular environment, and almost half (46 percent) would switch to eco-friendly items. But these results should be interpreted cautiously. As U. S. psychologist  Icek Ajzen   wrote, “Actions … are usually controlled simply by intentions, yet not all intentions are carried out. ” 

In spite of environmentally-friendly sentiments from great swathes associated with consumers (and putting inflationary pressures aside), such issue about the environment does not easily translate into the purchase of “green” products.  

Commercial research   reveals that 46 percent of consumers are more inclined to buy a product if this is “sustainable” or “eco-friendly, ” but nearly 60 percent are usually unwilling to pay more money for that “sustainable” or “eco-friendly” product. Meanwhile, academic  research   has consistently identified this gap between buy intentions plus behaviors. Regardless of environmental concern and the positive attitude of customers towards durability and green products, it is estimated the marketplace share of green products will reach only  25 percent associated with store sales by 2021.  

Ultimately, the research that will evaluates consumers’ willingness in order to pay a lot more for eco-friendly products offers been  mixed . For illustration, one study found out Spanish consumers were willing to pay  22–37 percent   more for green products, yet Japanese customers were only willing to pay  8–22 %   more to get green items.  

From procuring raw materials in order to shipping the final product, almost all steps of the manufacturing and production process of  eco-friendly products cost a lot more   than traditional products. There are several reasons for this particular. Sustainable materials cost more to grow plus manufacture, reputable third-party qualifications add further costs, and using organic materials is more expensive compared to alternatives, this kind of as mass-produced chemicals.   Simple  economies of scale   also impact cost. While the particular demand for such products remains low, the price continues to be high. More demand would mean more production and lower unit price costs. As  economists say , as cost lowers, our willingness and ability in order to buy an item increase.  

The nudge to change behavior

In a free market economy, it is very difficult to force individuals to pay much more for items. But manufacturers can “ nudge ” consumers towards more eco-friendly products. Nudge theory is used to understand how people think, create decisions plus behave. It can be used to help people improve their particular thinking and decisions.  

Studies show environmentally friendly logos plus labels can be used to nudge consumers toward  sustainable fashion ,   food intake   and  eco-friendly   offerings. So , while not almost all consumers will pay more pertaining to green “climate-friendly” products despite the best associated with intentions, we can slowly nudge them to make better choices for the particular planet.

Gary Mortimer is really a Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behavior at Queensland University of Technology. (This article was initially published by The Conversation. )

By Ellie

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