SFC study: Tough economy affects green buying decisions

People less willing to spend more for sustainability

Heath E. Combs, November 15, 2010

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A tough economy is having a noticeable effect on eco-friendly furnishings purchases, according to the Sustainable Furnishings Council's 2010 Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study.

The study is the SFC's the third annual report to assess consumer awareness, behavior and interest in sustainable furnishings.

The study was conducted by the Sustainable Furnishings Council and sponsored by World Market Center in Las Vegas.

In a summary of key findings, the SFC said that concerns about the economy are making consumers less likely to spend more on sustainable furnishings, and added that compared with previous studies, it was tougher to find respondents who had spent at least $500 on home furnishings in the past year.

The study indicated consumers are less home-involved and more apprehensive about spending.

The survey indicated while many consumers are taking action on sustainability issues, from recycling at home to switching to CFL light bulbs, and that more than half have purchased green products, the purchasing of green home furnishings remains very low at 4% of consumers.

The survey summary said the main obstacle is lack of awareness and availability of products, which could suggest a problem with supply and marketing, rather than concept or product dissatisfaction.

The survey suggests that health and wellness or safety claims are most compelling to consumer and indicated that "environmentally safe" is the preferred term for green products.

It also showed that while in the past consumers have been willing to pay about 10% more for green items, that number is shifting to about 5%, underscoring how shoppers are more price-sensitive.

"People are interested in buying these types of products, but they are unwilling to pay much if anything for the difference," the summary said.

Complete results of the survey can be purchased for $49 by contacting SFC Executive Director Susan Inglis at susan@sustainablefurnishings.org.


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