What makes people 'buy green'?

Jan 25, 2023 | written by:

It's a million-dollar question, and one that directly affects everyone from shoppers to sustainable businesses and eco-entrepreneurs... plus indirectly, anyone affected by climate change.

In other words, all of us need to know: what encourages people to buy and use sustainable products? 

It’s well known that there is a major gap between saying and doing when it comes to sustainable consumer habits. Most of us say we would like to be mindful about what we buy, minimising waste and the use of single-use plastic, while supporting businesses that show care and respect for the environment. Many of us say we are even prepared to pay more for sustainable products.

But the facts say something different. An Ipsos survey compared consumers’ (self-reported) values with their actions, and the gap was significant. While 40% said it was important to them that the products they bought were produced in a way that had a low impact on the environment, only 22% said they had actually made a conscious decision to try to buy such products in the past month.

Obviously, for the sake of the planet, it’s vital that this 'intention-action gap' is closed - and the good news is that academic research has identified ways that both individuals and businesses can influence people to make more sustainable choices. Here are three of the top insights:

Social influence
How friends, family and neighbours behave is one of the biggest factors in determining actions. When customers know others are making an effort to purchase sustainable goods, they are inspired to do the same. 

Changing habits
It’s often said that humans are creatures of habit. So once customers develop sustainable behaviour patterns, these are likely to remain part of their routine. Companies can nudge customers to form green habits by simple actions such as making their most sustainable products the default option.

Staying positive
It's not rocket science: people are more likely to behave in ways that make them feel good. Helping customers feel proud of their choices, and get a sense that they can have a positive impact on the future through their actions is crucial. 

Finally, there is something simple we can all do, a single action that does good for the planet and inspires others at the same time: plant a tree and give it to someone we love. There doesn't even need to be a particular reason, just a wish to do something beautiful! Click here to plant a tree now.


Plant now For businesses