The New York Times has an interesting article on the front page this morning: “As Consumers Cut Spending, ‘Green’ Products Lose Allure.” The article notes that sales of a number of environmentally friendly products such as Clorox’s Green Works have fallen sharply.
The article presents the results of a study done by Sanford C. Bernstein looking at sales of green products across 22 different product categories. The results are astonishing; green products now have less than a 2% market share and are declining. This includes green niche brands and green versions of traditional brands. Perhaps the most interesting finding: green products have never had more than a 2.5% market share.
This raises an interesting question: how can this be? Isn’t everyone concerned about the environment?
I think the answer is easy: perceptions. People believe that green products are less effective and more expensive. Which would clean better, a regular toilet cleaner or an environmentally friendly toilet cleaner? For most people, that would be a pretty simple question: the regular version.
Of course I’m not certain this is true; I have absolutely no data. But to make a green product, you presumably have to remove the toxic chemicals, the ones that really work well. Green matters, but efficacy matters more.
I predict that things won’t get better for green products anytime soon.
One reason: the entire green movement took a hit with the launch of the new phosphate free dishwasher detergents. New government regulations recently forced manufacturers to remove phosphates. The result is a rather shocking decline in cleaning quality; the move is very noticeable and it reinforces the perception that environmentally friendly products just don’t work very well.