What motivates “sustainable” consumers?

Posted by Kelsey Ness on May 16, 2012


Today, some marketers suggest that we classify consumers from light green (minimal commitment to sustainability and earth-friendly buying) to dark green (strong commitment). Whatever the shade, being green is more mainstream than ever. How is this trend affecting home furnishings?

Some of the most exciting findings come from the Sustainable Furnishings Council, which has released the top findings from its 2012 Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study. The fourth study of its kind, researchers surveyed 432 female homeowners ranging from ages 30-60 with household incomes more than $50,000 shows.

The survey, conducted by the Sustainable Furnishings Council with the support of furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, aims to provide trend data on consumer awareness, attitudes and behaviors relating to environmental issues and the home furnishings industry. Among its discoveries:

  •  There is a growing interest in buying green. More than half of the consumers surveyed have purchased green products in a variety of categories. These consumers practice recycling at home and are concerned about a range of environmental issues.
  • Those who purchased home furnishings in the last year showed twice the interest in green products as those who have not purchased. People may be buying less but they are buying eco-friendly.
  • In general, consumers will pay a little more for a special feature that is important to them. 67 percent of respondents said that they would pay up to five percent more for green furnishings.

That last bullet point is perhaps one of the most important findings. Consumers will pay extra to buy a green product, especially if it does more than its traditional counterpart. Just as we’ll buy energy efficient brands because they’ll also save us money, when you’re talking with consumers about mattresses and other products with BiOH® polyols, spend ample time discussing the benefits to the consumer – such as better sleep – in addition to the benefits to the environment.

That two-for-one value could easily be the tipping point that results in more sales. Your customers will be excited about sleeping better at night. They’ll also feel good about themselves because they just bought something that helps sustain Mother Earth.

It stands to reason that they will also feel good about you, as a retailer, because you sell these earth-friendly, health-enhancing products and you were knowledgeable about their many layers of benefits.


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