A quarter of UK consumers said they would buy Fairtrade products, organic foods and green cleaning products even if it cost them more money
British shoppers are three times more likely to choose environmentally friendly products than they were in 2011, despite the squeeze on their incomes.
A quarter of UK consumers said they would take the green option even if it cost them more money, up from 8% 17 months earlier, according to a survey by Nielsen, the market research company.
The UK trend reflects a global surge in interest in environmentally friendly products with the proportion of consumers prepared to pay more to protect the natural world more than doubling to 46% last autumn from 22% in spring 2011, according to Nielsen.
That change partly reflects rising concerns about the provenance of food and other products in the wake of series of scandals and easier access to information about the working practices of factories and farms around the world.
Mike Watkins, senior manager of retail services at Nielsen, said that greater availability of eco-friendly products and improved marketing was also driving consumers towards pro-environment goods. Fairtrade and organic foods and green cleaning products such as Ecover, for example, are now widely stocked by supermarkets.
“Improved marketing contributes to better awareness and education about such products and helps compensate for any perceived quality trade-off between eco-friendly and standard versions,” Watkins said.
However, sales of relatively expensive organic produce have declined in the UK during the economic slump as consumers prioritise saving money over ecological concerns. The organic market dipped 1.5% this year according to The Soil Association, following much larger drops in the previous three years.
Neil Saunders, managing director of retail consultancy Conlumino, said that the increased interest in environmental products suggested by Nielsen was surprising and did not entirely tally with other industry data.
But he said the price difference between green options and their traditional rivals had reduced, making them more acceptable for shoppers. “It’s easier to make that decision to switch,” he said.
But Brits lag behind others when it comes to active changes in their lifestyle to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint, according to Nielsen’s survey of 29,000 people in 58 countries via the internet. Just 43% of UK participants said they were changing their behaviour compared with six in 10 globally and 55% in France and 52% in Germany, the nearest major economies.
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