HBA Shoppers are Changing Brands to Make More Eco-Healthy Choices
New research on the consumer market for sustainable personal care and cosmetic products was released by Linda Gilbert at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in New York this month. Gilbert is the founder and CEO of EcoFocus Worldwide, a major research group focused on pinpointing consumer sustainability trends and providing needed shopper insights and data for HBA manufacturers, marketers, and retailers.

According to the EcoFocus study, 85% of Americans ages 18-65 years are shopping with the environment in mind at least sometimes. Called Consumers Who Care™ by EcoFocus, almost half (48%, up 3 points since 2010) say it is important to choose green toiletries; and 33% say it is important to choose green cosmetics. As a result, they are rethinking their choices and often making new decisions with the environment in mind, including the brands they buy.

The study finds that these shoppers are especially willing to change brands to make a more eco-friendly choice: 67% of the Green HBA target, versus just 43% of Consumers Who Care overall. And, they will exercise their veto vote when shopping: about 2 in 3 have already avoided buying products upon learning the company is not acting responsibly – either socially or environmentally.

The Green HBA target shopper sees the value of green choices but affordability is still a barrier: more than six in ten agree it is worth paying more for eco-friendly products, but 73% wish they could buy environmentally friendly products more often but say they are “not affordable.”

A powerful part of the value proposition for these shoppers is better health: 86% of Green HBA women and 90% of Green HBA men associate better personal health with an eco-friendly lifestyle.

“This intersection of health and eco-friendly benefits is driving today’s Eco-Healthy Lifestyles trend,” says Gilbert. “This is a very compelling value proposition for shoppers and offers a sweet spot for success for eco-friendly products and communications in the HBA category.”

Gilbert says that for today’s consumers, Eco-Healthy Lifestyle choices mean limiting exposure to chemicals and toxins in their everyday lives. Already, 79% of Green HBA target shoppers have changed what they buy to reduce their exposure to chemicals.

Eco-Healthy Lifestyle choices also include ingredient sourcing considerations. Eight in ten Green HBA target shoppers say it is extremely or very important to buy products produced in environmentally responsible countries, and seven in ten put a priority on choosing organic products that are locally produced.

Responsible packaging is also a priority for Green HBA target shoppers: more than six in ten have already changed what they buy due to the type or amount of packaging. They want help from manufacturers: more than eight in ten say “manufacturers need to do a better job of telling me how to recycle or dispose of their packaging;” and, more than six in ten say “natural and organic products need to do a better job of packaging their products with recyclable materials.”

Recyclable, refillable and reusable packaging are the most desirable EcoFriendly solutions, followed by packaging made with recycled material. More than half try to avoid products that use double packaging such as a tube inside a box.

The Green HBA target shopper wants help from their retailers too. About 3 in 4 expect retailers to ensure that there are eco-friendly products on their shelves. About 3 in 5 agree it is important to shop at retail stores that do so.

The EcoFocus study offers brand owners, manufacturers, retailers, and their suppliers a new and personal look at Green HBA target shoppers, with rich insights for meeting the demands of these increasingly environmentally aware shoppers.

EcoFocus Worldwide, LLC conducted online interviews with more than 9,000 men and women ages 18-65 years in July 2010 and February 2012. The data is nationally projectable to the U.S. adult population and statistically valid at the 95% confidence level +/- 1.0%. The study will be fielded again in September 2012 and February 2013. For information about subscribing or including custom questions in the EcoFocus Trend Survey, please contact EcoFocus Worldwide.