Monday, December 03, 2007

Almost 90% of Americans see themselves as socially responsible/conscious consumers

According to a recent survey by BBMG, 88% of Americans say the labels "conscious consumer" or "socially responsible" fit them well (and more than a third say the labels fit them very well)-- much higher than I would have guessed. (PDF here; article summarizing some results here.)

Of course, there's a difference between thinking of yourself in a certain way and actually acting on it. BBMG estimates that only about 30% of Americans actually involve their values and ideals in their purchasing-- 10% who go out of their way to do it consistently (the "Enlighteneds," as they title the group, which is a little silly-sounding); and 20%, the "Aspirationals," whose social and environmental priorities sometimes win out and sometimes are sacrificed to concerns like price and convenience.

Still, 30% is no small segment of the population. And the survey found that a much larger percentage of adults would choose to buy from a more socially responsible company if the products' price and quality were the same. 90% would do so if the company manufactures energy efficient products, 88% if the company promotes consumer health and safety, 87% if the company commits to environmentally-friendly practices, and 87% if the company supports fair labor and trade practices. (That last one surprises and pleases me-- I am used to hearing people talk a lot about the environment, and a lot less about buying fair trade and not exploiting the workers who make our products. I'm really glad to see evidence that most Americans care about that too, even though "price and quality being equal" is a big caveat, )

How do consumers decide which products are socially and environmentally responsible? According to the survey, 52% of consumers use certification labels to help them be socially responsible, 53% use magazines and newspapers, 24% get information from family and friends-- and 41% use the internet (hey, that's me!)

On a personal level as a blogger about money and values, this is a very motivating sort of survey to discover. Being a conscious consumer is really important to me, and so I really enjoy writing about it and sharing it with others, but sometimes I feel like I'm shouting in the wilderness here... that there just aren't many other people who care the way I do. But if it's true that almost 9 in 10 people want to be conscious consumers, that a third of people are really committed to putting that into practice, then it's so exciting to think about how many people are open to these ideas and what I can do here at Money and Values to spread information and build community around it!

So what do you think? Do these results surprise you as much as they did me, or do you think that 88% of people calling themselves conscious consumers is about right? Does that label fit you?

1 comment:

vh said...

No doubt most of us THINK we're socially responsible and conscious consumers. But many of us seem to be a bit deluded, no? Otherwise, how to explain the annual Christmas shopping frenzy for the latest "it" toy?

With a president who tells us that shopping is patriotic, it's no wonder we all think a trip to the mall is a socially responsible thing to do.