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The Green Consumer

14 September 2011

With publicity surrounding the threat of global warming on the rise, environmental consciousness is at an all-time high.

Recent years have witnessed an evolution towards environmental considerations and concerns - not just among the public, but within government and corporations across various industry sectors around the globe. In fact, the environment is the most important problem currently facing the world and Australia, according to recent research by Roy Morgan International. As a world problem, 35 percent (up from 14 percent in 2006) of Australians consider the environment the biggest problem, ahead of economic issues and terrorism, wars, safety and security. Thirty percent (up from 8 percent in 2006) of Australians consider the environment the biggest problem facing Australia (Levine, 2008).

In line with the surge in green movements in recent years, a new niche market of consumers has evolved, and they are highly concerned about the environment and are willing to do and spend more to be environmentally friendly. As business becomes more globalised, concern is also rising about the way in which companies operate and the origin of their products, with consumers very aware that their own actions can force governments and businesses to change for the better.

So who is this so-called green consumer¬Ě? Also described as socially responsible, ethical, cultural creatives, and/or environmentally responsible, green consumers are those who consistently and primarily discriminate product purchases in favour of the environment. In choosing a particular brand, these consumers take sustainability into account by seeking out green products or products with eco-friendly packaging, considering fair trade or environmental practices when choosing where to shop, or buying organic products (Euromonitor, 2008). Todays green consumers are most concerned with issues such as:

  • Reducing their "carbon footprint": fuel usage (vehicles, aeroplanes)
  • Waste management: recycling, packaging
  • Natural ingredients: fewer chemicals, organic products

As green becomes mainstream and increasing numbers of consumers embrace environmentally responsible practices, green consumers are becoming a sizeable and lucrative target market - particularly in North America, Western Europe, Japan, and Australia (Marlow, 2007). In fact, green consumers globally had an estimated annual buying power of US$500 billion in 2008 (Berry, 2007). Green consumerism is also expected to grow rapidly over forthcoming years despite the economic crises.

What is your business doing to capture the business of the green consumer?

Source: Monash University

By Zoey Jurss, GreenBizCheck