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American Consumers Take Sustainability to the Next Level

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This week, SCA, Philadelphia, Pa., USA, maker of the Tork brand of away-from-home hygiene products in North America, released results of its Seventh Tork Green Business Survey. This year, the survey found consumers are increasingly committed to purchasing products and services that have a less degrading impact on the environment and human health.
With an improved economy and a reduced unemployment rate, more American consumers (78%) say they purchase sustainable products and services compared with 2014 findings (75%). SCA commissioned Harris Poll to field an online survey among over 2,000 U.S. adults (aged 18+) in April 2015.

"The results of the study are profound and demonstrate that sustainability in the marketplace continues to grow. Since we began conducting this survey, the percentage of consumers who indicate that they do not purchase green products has decreased every year," said Mike Kapalko, sustainability marketing manager for SCA's North American away-from-home professional hygiene business. "These year-over-year changes signal a broader trend—sustainable purchasing habits are not a result of the same people purchasing more, but rather a new group of people buying these products for the first time. There is a groundswell of Americans who do not consider sustainability to be a fad, but rather a new paradigm of purchasing."

American consumers increasingly choose to make these environmental and health-conscious purchasing decisions and 26% say they know how to determine if a "green" claim/statement is true based on their own research. Nearly half (46%) of Americans will spend more money on purchases if they could be guaranteed of ethical and responsible manufacturing practices. 

"Brands and companies hoping to gain market share in the coming years need to be aware of these consumer motivations," continued Kapalko. "As consumers grow increasingly inclined to use their purchasing power toward environmentally sound products and services, the availability of and competition between these products will also increase. Brands and companies not only need to consider offering these products, if they do not already do so, but also need to seriously consider how they position the products and services in the marketplace, as that will impact their success."

It is crucial that brands and companies keep a pulse on this trend so as to meet consumer demands and positively expand their business. According to the 2015 Tork Report, which explores sustainability in the B2B industry, 47% of businesses acknowledge that sustainability will be more important in the future.

"The connection in results from the 2015 Tork Green Business Survey and the 2015 Tork Report demonstrate the ongoing trend in the continued growth and importance of green products and services among both business and consumers," concluded Kapalko. "It is apparent that the movement is growing and will likely continue to do so in the coming years."

According to the 2015 Tork Green Business survey, more than three-quarters of American adults (78%) purchase green products and services. This represents an increase from last year, when 75% of Americans reported making green purchases. The number of Americans who do not make green purchases decreased in 2015 to 22% from 25% in 2014, demonstrating traction within new segments of the population. Millennials age 18-34 (24%) are more likely than Americans age 45+ (13%) to indicate that more of their purchases are green.
Interestingly, among those who purchase "green" products, those with a child under the age of 18 in their household (26%) are more likely to indicate that more of their purchases are green than those without (20%).
Almost half (49%) of American consumers who purchase green products/services do so because it is better for the environment. Also, among Americans who purchase green products/services, those without a child under the age of 18 in their household (52%) are more likely to feel this way than those with a child under 18 in the household (41%). Meanwhile, 25% of millennials are motivated by health benefits.

According to American adults, there are preferred ways for businesses to show their commitment to being green. The method with the greatest consensus (26%) is for businesses to show their commitment through designation on menus and store shelves for greener choices. One fifth (20%) feel businesses should display posters or flyers explaining how they are being green and one in six (14%) feel businesses should explain their green programs and information on websites to best communicate to customers.

Almost half (46%) of U.S. adults are willing to pay more for products if guaranteed of ethical and responsible manufacturing practices. In fact, three in ten (30%) would pay up to 10% more for these products and services than they do today. Millennials (61%) expressed a greater willingness to pay more than those aged 35+ (39%). And those with a child under 18 in their household (53%) are significantly more likely to pay more than those without a child under 18 (42%).

When asked about their opinion of green products and services, nearly two in five (39%) American adults say that it is really just getting started. In addition, 38% believe green products and services are the new normal and "a required expectation," whereas only 12% believe it is a fad that will go away.

For more information or to request a copy of the survey results, please contact Mollie Young

Harris Poll fielded the study on behalf of SCA Tissue from April 20-22nd, 2015, via its QuickQuery online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,082 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. Results were weighted as needed for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. 


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