Climate Change-Influenced Shopping Preferences – A Growing Market Force?

In a recently publicized report on Americans’ Actions to Limit Global Warming in April 2013, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that American shopping behavior is increasingly tipping toward “green” products.  Majorities of those surveyed said that the next time they make a major home purchase,  they will buy an energy-efficient kitchen appliance (75%), hot water heater (71%), air conditioner (68%), or furnace (67%).  Sixty-one percent said their next car will average 30 miles per gallon or more.

In other categories covered by the survey, 28% of consumers said that in the last twelve months they had preferentially bought products from companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming and 21% had disfavored companies thought to be opposing climate change efforts.  Also in the prior year, 26% of those surveyed said they had discussed with friends or family their perception of a company’s irresponsible environmental behavior.  Other questions elicited responses showing strong support for buying locally grown or produced foods as well as organic foods.

Even discounting the survey numbers to some degree because they ask about intentions rather than track actual performance, it is clear that climate change-related factors are having an impact on Americans’ consumer buying patterns.  Regardless of what may or may not be happening with federal legislative or regulatory action on climate change issues, this type of survey result is likely to influence corporate behavior as companies assess the market impact of these forces.

Jane C. Luxton, Esq.

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