The recently released Green Pulse Study shatters stereotypes of who Green Consumers really are and of what actually motivates them to buy green.  Results may surprise

Al GoreA new national study of green consumers conducted by the Knoxville, Tennessee based Shelton Group, the results of which were released August 21, 2009 contradicts several long-held stereotypes about them.  The Green Living Pulse study, which polled 1,007 US consumers who at least occasionally buy green products (77% of the population) found there is no typical Green Consumer.  Further findings revealed that the environment is not their top concern, their kids are not influencing them to be green, and, while many of them know what they should do to save the planet, they often don’t do it.

“Most green advertising is created as if there’s one pool of green consumers and they’re all motivated by ‘Save the planet!’ messages,” says Suzanne Shelton, whose firm conducted the study. “Not all green consumers are the same, they’re not all motivated by the same messages, and they’re not all inclined to buy only green products.” 

The study also uncovered six myths about this group:

Myth 1: Green consumers’ top concern is the environment.  When asked to identify their top concern, the economy, by far, is No. 1 (with 59% calling it their top concern) and the environment falls far behind at 8%).

Myth 2: Green consumers’ main motivation when reducing their energy use is to save the planet.  When asked the most important reason to reduce energy consumption, 73% chose “to reduce my bills/control costs” and only 26% chose “to lessen my impact on the environment.”

Myth 3: Green consumers are all-knowledgeable about environmental issues.  For example, the survey asked, “From what you have read or heard about CO2 (carbon dioxide), please place a check beside any of the following statements you think are true.”  Almost half (49%) chose the incorrect answer, “It depletes the ozone layer.”  This is not surprising since Al Gore, godfather of the green movement, frequently gets his facts wrong.

Myth 4: Green consumers fall into a simple demographic profile.  While the study detected some demographic tendencies, it found that green consumers aren’t easily defined by their age, income, or ethnicity. 

Myth 5: Children play a big part in influencing their parents to be green.  Only 20% of respondents with children said their kids encouraged them to be greener.  Children have virtually no influence, even for seemingly easy ways to go green, like promoting recycling and turning off lights.

Myth 6:  If buyers just knew the facts they’d make greener choices.  Hold on buckaroo, the study showed that knowledge does not translate into eco-conscious behavior. Individuals who answered all of the science-related questions correctly did report participating in a significantly higher average number of green activities, such as driving a fuel-efficient car or lowering their thermostat during the winter; however, the 25-34 year-old age group consistently answered the questions correctly, yet, on average, this group’s green activity levels were lower than those of older respondents.

In reality, politicians from the left use Global Warming and the associated save the planet argument to further their own agenda, an agenda which isn’t necessarily even green.  Al Gore, to continue with a previous example, grossly misrepresents scientific facts in order to convince the world to go green.  It doesn’t take much digging, however, to uncover Gore’s self serving misrepresentations to find that he does so in order to profit personally from the discussion.  Gore is well on his way to making a billion dollars from the green argument. 

Consumers, it turns out, have assessed the green movement correctly.  They buy green when they perceive a personal benefit from doing so, not to further some nebulous altuistic, yet faulty, save the planet movement.

I am a Certified Green Building Professional, which means I have received specialized training and education to earn this certification.  And, I believe, fervently, in the green building movement.  Although it seems as if the positions I advance in this article results in my contradicting myself when I encourage home buyers to buy green, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In my next article I’ll impart a good deal of common sense and will prove – absolutely – that buying green built homes is the smart and right thing to do.  But saving the polar bears and polar ice caps won’t enter into my argument.  Be sure to read my next article.  My science, unlike that of Al Gore, is neither closed nor wrong.

Scott Schaefer

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