Consumers’ concerns about the environment and climate change can be translated into sustainable choices and initiate larger structural changes.

Consumer demand for greener product and service options can drive a shift towards a more sustainable economy. Changing consumer behavior can result both in an increased uptake of renewable energy in households and in the selection of consumer products made with the use of clean power.

Many consumers today are concerned about sustainability, but making it easy and attractive to be a “green consumer” is crucial to translate this interest into action. One area where initiatives have directed consumer behavior in a more sustainable direction is in the purchase of electric cars. In an increasing number of markets, like Norway, sales are growing in part because of governmental interventions that make buying an electric car an attractive choice for consumers. This can be achieved through, for example, tax incentives or initiatives like privileged parking status or access to restricted lanes. Public procurement policies that favor “green” products and services can directly increase demand for these options. Resulting spillover effects on private consumption have also been shown to exist.

Social norms also play an important role in determining consumer choices. Studies show that social norms are the prime reason why people choose sustainable products and services. For example, opting to holiday close to home to avoid the emissions resulting from air travel has a high signaling value for the individual. As such, the value of being associated with a sustainable lifestyle can be leveraged to promote more sustainable consumer choices. Design and marketing to make green products attractive are essential, while regulation can also ensure that green washing is avoided.

Consumers care about sustainability, but if they are to act accordingly, credible information about the benefits of green choices as well as initiatives to facilitate them (such as foot printing and labeling) need to be adopted. These can also help to influence upstream suppliers to initiate larger structural changes.

Survey Findings

The market opportunity Green Consumer Choices is highly regarded across all regions when assessed for its capacity to have a positive impact on societies. However the most interesting survey result is perhaps derived from the responses to the questions regarding its attractiveness for business.

The manufacturing sector is very positive on its benefits to business generally and for its ability to inspire new business ventures. In the governmental sector it is also seen as very strong on both of these aspects.

In the finance, other businesses and, to a lesser degree, and for the service sectors the opinion is much more skeptical. Despite this, respondents from all three sectors see this opportunity as one of the most likely to inspire new business.

The survey itself does not explain this, but one theory can be that though many businesses today perceive “green” as an added cost, they realize that they will have to adapt to consumer demands for green products and services.

This market was surveyed globally in 2014 by more than 5500 leaders from both the public and private sectors. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the research company YouGov. The survey results were originally published in the Global Opportunity Report 2015.

Global Goals addressed

Market Details

Market Size in US$, 2022: 102 bn
Growth Rate (CAGR), 2016-2022: 32%