Forrester: Retailers Need To Think Green

Consumer demand has finally put green retail on the main stage, according to a report from Forrester, which states that more than 50% of U.S. online adults are “green” consumers.

The customers are “interested” or “very interested” in buying green products or buying from brands that engage in green initiatives, according to a Forrester survey of 4,500 consumers. This translates to roughly 90 million people in the U.S. alone.

“In addition to their obvious positive (or, at least, less damaging) environmental impact, green initiatives present a significant opportunity for retailers to gain market share by attracting and retaining high-value online green customers, to create brand advocates, and to drive innovation,” according to analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

Mulpuru segments U.S. consumers into four groups based on their attitudes toward green retail. She finds that 13% of U.S. online consumers fall into the most environmentally conscious group, "super green," while 38% of the US online population falls into the "green" category. Of the green consumers, 79% have purchased a product online in the past three months, spending an average of $1,808 online annually. This figure skyrockets to $3,422 for super-green consumers, who make an average of nearly 40 online purchases per year, compared with the US average of 27.

In the report, Mulpuru provides a full breakdown of each consumer segment, outlines best practices for retailers looking to target environmentally aware consumers, and evaluates the corporate social responsibility reports of 57 brands.

Green consumers are affluent, spend more online, and make more purchases online annually. Moreover, green consumers are willing to spend more for products that align with their interests and often advocate green products and brands to family and friends.

Retailers need to improve green initiatives to stay ahead of innovative competitors, according to the report.

About 60% of the retailers surveyed offered a corporate social responsibility report or similar online resources, but the quality of those efforts varied drastically. As innovative competitors emerge, retailers must use digital channels to provide and explain concrete data about their environmental impact to attract and retain green consumers.

Thirty-eight percent of green consumers agree that they’d be willing to spend more for products that are consistent with an image they like; this skyrockets to 63% of super-greens. Many consumers across the green segments would be willing to pay more for green products and spend more with companies that support green initiatives that align with their environmental concerns.

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