Whether you’re a climate change sceptic, a tree-hugging eco-warrior or something in between, there’s no avoiding the environmental debate these days. And with nearly four out of five New Zealanders believing that ‘if we don’t act now we’ll never control our environmental problems’, it makes sense that their shopping habits would reflect this. After all, buying sustainable, eco, biodegradable, non-toxic and/or organic products is an easy way for each individual to play their part in saving the planet, right?
Perhaps not. You see, there’s one small problem: three-quarters of Kiwis also believe that ‘environmentally friendly products are overpriced’ (compared to 68% of Australians). This presents a challenge for retailers and manufacturers of such items.
Roy Morgan Research looked at the customers of several high-profile New Zealand retailers to see how their attitudes towards environmentally friendly products stacked up against the national average.
How attitudes to environmentally-friendly products vary among Kiwi shoppers
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), July 2011 – June 2012 (n = 19,690).
As the chart shows, 84% of Miller’s Fashion Club customers believe that ‘environmentally friendly products are overpriced’, followed closely by Stirling Sports and Jay Jays customers (82% each). Kmart and Hunting & Fishing aren’t far behind: 81% of each store’s customers believe these items are too costly.
At the other end of the scale, 67% of Farmlands customers, and 69% of both ITM and Placemakers shoppers share this attitude. Curiously, these three retailers specialise in ‘trade’ supplies: agricultural in Farmlands’ case, and building/DIY in the case of the other two. Does this mean they’d choose an organic fertiliser over a chemical one, or wood sourced from approved plantations over cheaper, less sustainable options?
Pip Elliott, General Manager, Roy Morgan Research NZ, says:
“It’s interesting to see how different kinds of customers vary in their attitude towards environmentally friendly products. Our findings show that shoppers at clothing boutiques and sportswear stores are most likely to believe these items are overpriced, suggesting that they probably wouldn’t be willing to pay more for ethically produced (non-sweatshop) garments and sporting goods.
“Though trade and agricultural supplies customers seem less likely to share this perception of green-friendly products, and some may not think twice about buying them, the fact remains that nearly seven out of 10 do think they’re overpriced.
“But with more than six out of every 10 New Zealanders claiming to be ‘an environmentalist at heart’ (slightly more than Australia’s 58%) and less than a third believing threats to the environment are exaggerated, there is a golden opportunity for any retailer or manufacturer who either offers reasonably priced, green-friendly goods, or who can dispel this widespread belief that they cost too much.”
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Roy Morgan Research
Roy Morgan Research is Australia's best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
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