A fifth consumer right, not enumerated by Kennedy but which should be added is stated as follows. The right to a clean environment – to be assured that the environment consumers live in is free from pollution. Widespread and large scale pollution seems to be a by-product of -an economically developed society, but it is also an area of great concern for many consumers.
Significance of Environmentalism
The 1990s is likely to be the decade of the environment. The green movement – the term is borrowed from the name given to Germany’ radical environmentalists – is growing significantly and marketers are seeking to cash in on an environmental awakening. Green may be to the 90s what light was to the 80s with products clamouring to show how they are environmentally sensitive. Consider just a few dimensions of the environmental crisis:
1) The World’s forests are being destroyed at the rate of one football field size area each second.
2) Plant and animal species are becoming extinct at the rate of 17 per hour
3) One half of US landfills will be closed by 1995.
4) As many as 20 per cent of Americans believe they or a family member may already have suffered damage to their health as a result of poor air quality, ozone depletion or exposure to hazardous materials.
5) Sixty two per cent of Americans believe environmental pollution to be a very serious threat.
6) Only 36 per cent think that businesses are fulfilling their obligations to control pollution.
7) Fifty five per cent say environmental regulations have not gone far enough.
There is also evidence that environmentalism is becoming more important to the American public. For instance, recent opinion polls from such organizations as Gallup the Roger Organizations and Opinion Research Corporation have found the following results.
1) Between 69 to 79 per cent of Americans (depending on age) consider themselves to be environmentalists.
2) Eighty per cent are very concerned about environmental hazards.
3) Forty nine per cent are very concerned about potential environmental damage caused by consumer products and packaging.
4) Ninety per cent would be willing to make special efforts to buy products for companies trying to protect the environment.
5) Eighty two per cent have voluntarily recycled things such as newspaper, glass, aluminium and motor oil.
6) Seventy four per cent believe continuing environmental improvements must be made no matter what the cost.
7) Eighty three per cent have changed their shopping and lifestyle to help protect the environment.
8) Over 50 per cent declined to buy a product over the past year because they were concerned about the environmental effects of the product or packaging.
Unfortunately Americans appear to be behind European consumers by about five to seven years in their environmental concerns. And in Canada the environment is the number one concern compared to the United States where it typically ranks in at the sixth or seventh place. Although nearly all Americans are pro-environment their consumer behaviour does not yet match their attitudes. For instance 70 per cent say that consumers are more interested in convenience than they are in environmentally sound products and 53 per cent say that consumers are not willing to pay more for safer products. Thus, in spite of consumers professed concern for the environment demonstrated in many polls their economic interest at present outweigh their environmental interests. Changing consumer behaviours (both attitudes and actions) to be more environmentally sensitive is an important challenge that impacts not only purchase and use of products but also their disposition such as through recycling.
Source: Consumer Behaviour