British Consumers Least Willing to Pay Extra for Green

Ranking us last for allowing environmental concerns influence what we buy

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New study shows UK consumers rank bottom when it comes to letting environmental concerns influence what they buy
UK consumers are the least willing to pay for greener products, and have little interest in supporting retailers who stock up in favour of sustainable goods, according to a global study by TNS.

While 59% of respondents across the globe say they are happy to pay more for environmentally friendly products, but in the UK this falls to just 45%. This figure puts the UK at the bottom of the global league table in terms of willingness to pay a ‘green premium’.

And while 21% globally say their food purchase decisions are ‘significantly influenced’ by green factors, only 11% in the UK agree. The TNS ‘Our Green World’ study points to a significantly poor level of green motivation when UK consumers are asked to part with cash.

60% of UK consumers believe it is ‘right’ or ‘fair’ for retailers to adopt ‘choice editing’, a trend in which retailers have started to remove non-sustainable products from their shelves, only leaving the environmentally friendly options, however, the UK is the most apathetic country in Europe when it comes to supporting retail outlets that do this.

When the survey asked if consumers would specifically seek out retailers that adopt choice editing, only 34% in the UK said yes, compared to 89% in Italy, 71% in Spain and 62% in Germany. We are also the least motivated by green issues when buying health & beauty products (Global: 17%, UK: 9%) and household goods (Global: 15%, UK: 8%).

When it comes to travel products, only 8% of the UK see green issues as a ‘significant influence’ on their purchase decisions, with only Japan scoring lower than the UK.

Andrew Czarnowski, Managing Director of TNS UK said, “The question for brands targeting UK consumers is, ‘are these people willing to ‘walk the walk’, or just ‘talk the talk’?’ This research proves the latter is unfortunately the case, as very few Brits back up their green convictions by accepting a higher price for greener products. Given the prominence of the green agenda in the UK, and they way we accuse other nations of environmental apathy, the results of this survey are shocking. Coming bottom of the list for ‘green’ considerations in so many areas is nothing short of embarrassing for the UK.”

October 23, 2008