Consumers want more enviro-friendly products — will industrial purchasers follow?

Will safety products manufacturers promoting green goods such as hard hats and earplugs and gloves gain early green brand reputations and increase market share?

Corporate sustainability policies and protocols might be a driver for PPE that uses fewer natural resources and/or recyclable materials. Perhaps lessons can be learned by recent research into consumer “green” purchasing behavior.

The Shelton Group, a marketing and communications firm focusing on the sustainability and energy sector, finds that 70 percent of consumers want "Greener" products and corporate commitments to sustainability.

 Further, when making a product selection, about 30 percent of American consumers select products based on a company's Green reputation; 25 percent look to see if the product has been certified by a leading certification organization.

 The study also pointed out that while overall interests in Green and sustainable issues are gaining ground, many Green purchases and behaviors — including selecting Green cleaning products, personal care and food products, and energy and water conservation —  are either stagnant or in decline.

Survey findings

The conclusion reached about this trend, according to the researchers, is that with the economy up, consumers are less focused on conservation or money-saving strategies.

 Other key points found in the study include the following:

• When asked what contributes most to a company's Green reputation, consumers look for those companies making products with recycled content, potentially harmful chemicals removed, and reduced waste.

• If it was revealed that a company misled consumers about how Green their products are or were fined for failing emissions tests, 50 percent of the respondents would stop purchasing the product; 19 percent would also stop purchasing the product and encourage others to do the same; only 30 percent would continue purchasing the product

• The top two drivers — traits that drive consumers to select Green or sustainable products — are products that use fewer natural resources (25 percent); and those that are healthier or safer to use (23 percent).

"It's very hard to predict consumer behavior," says Stephen Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group and the professional cleaning industry's leading advocate for Green cleaning.  "When the economy tanked a few years ago, many believed people would stop selecting Green products. That did not happen. Now that things have improved, there appears to be some stagnation. [However], I suspect this is temporary and Green purchasing will grow in coming years."