A new report has found that consumers who previously purchased green products have decreased their green purchasing as a result of the recession.

In the study by Massachusetts-based Grail Research, 43% of “light green” consumers—those who buy some green products—said they have reduced their usage of green products or switched to conventional ones. At the same time, the percentage of non-green consumers rose from 15% to 22%.

“Although it’s clear that the market for green products is here to stay, the number of green consumers declined over the past two years,” notes Annica Blake, global head of research services at Grail Research.

Conversely, Blake says, the number of “dark green” consumers—those who select earth-friendly products for most of their purchases—increased by 1% and now make up 9% of the consumer market. Other key findings of the “Green Revolution” report include:

·         Sixty-five percent of respondents changed their purchasing behavior as a result of the recession, with most turning to less expensive green products.

·         Nine percent of consumers said they never consider buying green products, an increase of 4 percentage points since the previous report.

·         Only 11% of consumers reported that they seek information on green companies and their products.

·         Packaging still remains the most important source of information for green products, with more than half of consumers saying it impacts their purchasing decision.

·         Consumers are more likely to find green claims compelling if they provide quantitative information in an easy-to-visualize description that communicates the impact on the environment.

To improve consumer awareness, manufacturers should work to effectively articulate their products’ green attributes, says Blake, adding that the success of the green market will be determined by how well marketing messages resonate with buyers.

“It’s no longer enough to just say you’re green,” she says. “Consumers now expect comparable value and performance.”

Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor for EcoHome.