Does a consumer really care? Does a green consumer really exist?
Consumer side of sustainabilty is different from country to country. A conusmer in Europe, more specifically in the UK is much more educated and aware and is demanding in the greener/sustainable products than perhaps other countries. Australian and Canadian consumers probably come second, the US consumer third and then the rest of the world basically follows.
It is more of personal health and safety reasons than saving the planet issue, that consumers demand sustainable products.
A typical Walmart customer lives from paycheck to paycheck – an avearge $40,000 annual income consumer can’t afford an extra priced organic/green/CFL product – it just can’t afford the pay back period. Consumer is the least important part of all this. It doesn’t care if the detergent he’s buying is a concentrate and has a third less packaging. All he cares is that the product is not heavy to carry and is compact.
But at the same time, with the wide use of social media, the power does seem to lie in the hands of a consumer – where they are actually driving the supply – where a company’s reputation can be built/destroyed in days and the company won’t even come to know…and that’s the reason company’s now employ full-time bloggers and facebook keepers to track the ‘likes/dislikes’ and reach out to that new young customer of tomorrow.
All said, the consumer will only be serious about sustainable buying when that green product is, if not more, at least has the same performance characteristics and, if not less, at least equally priced than a traditional product in the same category.
It’s only when companies are able to drive the cost out of the sustainable/green products, then demand will be created – much like leveraging the supply side to shift the demand.
Educating the consumer is a big part that has to played not only by the suppliers/manufacturers but also by the big box retailers where consumers go to shop. As more and more companies jump onto the sustainaility mix, there will be more visibility to the end consumer and hence more demand will sprout.
The above picture retrieved @ http://www.tamabi.ac.jp/gurafu/akiyama/CHARACTER/CHARACTER.html