What does SFC’s current research show?
2015 Consumer Research
Summary of Key Findings by Susan Inglis, SFC Executive Director
The 2015 Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study is the 7th wave of national survey conducted to assess consumer awareness, interest and behavior in a variety of issues related to sustainable furnishings. The samples were intentionally limited to the prime demographics for purchasing home furnishings to ensure that the results would be most applicable to decisions made by companies that service this market. The 2015 study was conducted by Impact Consulting.
Overall, findings indicate a growing concern about sustainability issues and an interest in buying products that are good for the environment, so long as they meet given style and budget requirements. Quality, price and style are always the main drivers in choosing furnishings, but survey trends show “good for the environment” is more and more part of the value consumers seek.
At least half consumers rate themselves as very or extremely aware and concerned about a range of environmental issues from toxic pollution to using up natural resources to deforestation, with no single issue being of much greater concern. This tells us that the “engaged” population has been holding steady at about 50%. Most furniture consumers are taking action in a variety of ways, from recycling at home to switching to CFL light bulbs, and over half have purchased green products in a variety of categories. However, they still are not buying as much in “eco-friendly” home furnishings products as they are in categories they can access more easily, such as recycled paper products and non-toxic cleaners. It is clear that this is mostly because they have not been made aware of the options.
Purchase interest in green furnishings is growing, with over half of all furnishings consumers indicating interest in buying eco-friendly home furnishings, if they like the style and the price is right for them. Those definitely interested has grown from around 30% when we began the surveys to about 40%. These are very healthy numbers.
The current survey indicates that price sensitivity may have peaked. Those who would pay nothing or only up to 5% more fell from a peak of 78% in 2010 to around 70% in the current survey. This is a significant drop. Further, the solid 30% who will pay more is in line with general consumer inclination to pay more for a favorite feature or brand.
Awareness of specific eco-options in furnishings remains largely unchanged with recycled content, organic fabrics and reclaimed wood the most recognized, though as we always caution these are also the easiest to fake knowledge of because of the descriptiveness of the terms. It remains for the furniture sales person to point out the significance of eco-features including other recycled or reclaimed content, bio-based foam, domestic manufacture, etc. It is clearly worth having the conversation, though, since most consumers will respond to these features when the product is their style and price point.
Sustainable Furnishings Council is pleased to offer a range of training programs to ensure that furnishings professionals, as well as consumers, better understand the simple choices we can all make to help ensure a healthy future. The survey results show clearly that consumers are eager for us to bust the myth that “sustainable” looks a certain way or always costs more.
Impact Consulting’s GREEN HOME FURNISHINGS STUDY 2015
is available free to all SFC members. (a $250 value)