Environmentally conscious consumers to spend less this holiday season

December 1, 2010

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So what will the environmentally conscious consumer be buying this holiday season?

Not much, according to a new survey by BBMG, a New York brand innovation firm that focuses on sustainability.

Environmentally conscious consumers in the United States “are spending less but giving more this holiday season, focusing on local, homemade, organic, and donations to good causes as top gift choices that prize unique, memorable experiences over more stuff,” BBMG said in a statement.

In other words, they were not lining up at their local big box store at 3 a.m. on Black Friday to snag $29.99 DVD players.

BBMG defines what it calls “conscious consumers” as “youthful, wired, highly educated, majority female” who will pay more for environmentally beneficial products and who are “three times more likely to try new things” and “three times more likely to reward/punish a brand based on corporate practices.” BBMG claims that conscious consumers account for 30 percent of the U.S. population.

The firm surveyed members of The Collective, its private online community of some 2,000 conscious consumers it and its clients use as a sounding board. About 70 people participated in the shopping survey, according to a Gina Masullo, a BBMG spokeswoman.

“BBMG has conducted many conversations with Collective members about this and related topics over the last year,” Masullo said in an e-mail.

While such consumers may prove elusive for Target or Neiman Marcus, retailers selling environmentally beneficial products will benefit, according to BBMG. For instance, the conscious consumer’s inclination to recycle could be a boon to online retailers like Amazon and eBay that sell vintage or previously used products.

Half of those surveyed said they would spend less this holiday season than they did last year but 42 percent will buy more environmentally friendly gifts. Twenty-nine percent plan to spend more on organic gifts, 38 percent will purchase more locally produced gifts and 31 percent will open their wallets to buy more products certified as fair trade.

“These consumers are actively choosing to promote causes they believe in — sustainable brands big and small — and are committed to creating lasting memories while reducing waste in their lives,” Raphael Bemporad, BBMG’s chief strategy officer, said in a statement.

(Photos courtesy of BBMG.)

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