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Consumers thinking sustainable thoughts

Consumers thinking sustainable thoughts

Sustainability is on the minds of 8 out of 10 adults, according to new research from the Natural Marketing Institute. This is a big increase from NMI research in 2004 showing that Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability consumers were the only "sustainably active" segment.

"The percentage of LOHAS consumers has remained stable since 2005 while all of the other segments show noteworthy shifts," said Steve French, NMI managing partner, in a release. The shifts are reflective of both rising environmental and social concerns, as well at the current economic situation, he said.

In addition to LOHAS consumers, NMI identified three other consumer groups that are motivated by green principles:
Naturalites (17 percent of U.S. adults) are driven by personal health and wellness and are loyal to brands that are committed to sustainability. Drifters (24 percent of U.S. adults) are environmentally minded and buying choices reflect this but they are not deeply committed—price might come before sustainability. The third group, Conventional (26 percent of U.S. adults) recycles and take steps to conserve energy but don't necessarily do so for environmental reasons but maybe rather to save money.

For Amy Rooney, brand manager at Blue Marble Brands, the growing number of sustainably minded consumers out there is on her radar, but so is the economy. "I was happy to hear those numbers [from NMI]. When you go eco-friendly you have to pay more; I thought we'd see pullback [on sustainability]."

Although what things cost is currently her No. 1 priority, sustainability affects her buying decisions. "We worry about packaging all the time but we can't always do eco and get a low price, there just aren't enough [eco] packagers out there to make it competitive yet," she said.

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