Sheila M. J. Bonini and Jeremy M. Oppenheim

Our 2007 study of 7,751 consumers around the world identifies barriers to buying green at all five stages of the purchase process. In the first stage, awareness, consumers must be aware that a product exists before they can buy it, but many of them don’t know about the green choices in a number of categories. Next, consumers must believe that a product will get the job done. Many, however, think the quality of green products is lower than that of their more traditional, “browner” counterparts. Consumers must then decide whether or not a product lives up to its green reputation. Many are skeptical about environmental claims, partly because they distrust corporations and the media. Finally, in the fourth and fifth stages, consumers must decide if a product is worth the expense and the effort needed to purchase it—consumers often believe that green goods cost too much and are difficult to find. To increase sales of environmentally sensible products, companies must remove these five barriers—lack of awareness, negative perceptions, distrust, high prices, and low availability.

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