As we merge into a more environmentally aware climate, consumers are now presented with the option of going green for their go-to household products versus the previously popular option of chemical-based products. What is the reason for the shift towards more environmentally friendly cleaning products? While some may argue that green cleaning products are less effective due to having less harsh chemicals and thus lead to more time spent cleaning, promoting the absence of such harsh chemicals is beneficial to our planet and helpful for safeguarding the health of users of said products. Not only is the reduction of using chemical-heavy cleaning products useful for cutting down on eye and skin irritations and allergic reactions, but the cost of using natural ingredients to create cleaning products is lower than purchasing regular products. The transition into using environmentally friendly cleaning products occurs in favor of less physically irritative reactions, less contribution to planet pollution, and less money spent on chemically harsh products. By using all-natural cleaning products, users lessen the amount of chemicals passing from the lungs to the bloodstream, resulting in less problems caused to the nervous and respiratory systems. One study demonstrates the hazards of normal cleaning products, identifying cleaners as a high-risk group for adverse health effects of the skin and respiratory tract (Gerster, Fabian, M., Vernez, David, Wild, Pascal, P., & Wild, Nancy, B., 2014, p. 47).
After performing a systematic review of normal cleaning products, results of this study showed that more than 132 chemical substances were found in 105 different cleaning products, potentially giving rise to simultaneous exposure to different chemical substances and putting users at higher health risks (Gerster et al., 2014, p. 60). The level of increased risk in cleaners for respiratory issues ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 times the background risk (Rosenman, 2006, p. 221).
Why Consumers are Now Turning to Environment-Friendly Products
In the past couple of years, more and more consumers have been more conscious of their purchases and the products they buy. Twenty or thirty years companies didn’t have the advanced technologies that are available today. Yet, are there companies that are not creating environment-friendly products and still are doing well today? And for the companies who have jumped on the trend of producing environment-friendly products, what impacts are they making on the market and their consumers? The focus of this essay is to examine the factors as to why consumers continue to purchase non-environment friendly products versus the growing trend of consumers buying environment-friendly products. Has the role of social media impacted buyer decisions? Are there benefits and reasons to both sides of consumers’ decisions?
Benefits and Reasons for non-environment Friendly Products
What factors influence consumer decisions to pull out their credit cards and purchase someone? Consumers today are savvier than in the past. While in the past consumers didn’t have the luxury of instant shares and constant updates on social media mediums 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Consumers nowadays research products before they make a purchase online or at the local store. According to Laja (2019), a blog contributor to CTX in the marketing industry, explains the top factors that influence buyers from research studies. A good point about whether a company supports or doesn’t support creating environment-friendly products is an established consumer base.
Established product with a customer base
If there is a product that has an established place in the market, and whether it is “environment friendly” or not, in most cases, consumers will continue to purchase the product. Why? Because it is a good product and people like it. According to CTX.com, Simplicity and previous positive buying experience are two considerations that consumers think about when making any type of purchase. In many cases, companies that have been around awhile know their markets and who to market to. They have established customer trust with long term customers by creating and establishing positive buying experiences and keeping their marketing messages simple.
The Shift in Cleaning Products
Over the last several years, there has been a deliberate shift in making “green” cleaning products. Many household cleaners contain chemicals that are harmful to the earth and to the people using them. Large corporations are under a lot of pressure to deliver products that are effective, but also environmentally friendly. The biggest reasons for this shift to “green cleaners” are the media’s influence and consumer demands.
The media has a huge effect on how the public thinks and acts. Specific subjects can be blown up or minimalized to suit certain narratives. Since the early 2000s, there has been a decided push to get greener products on the shelves (Watson). Issues like global warming and the state of the planet are always at the forefront of an activist’s mind. Therefore, with the appearance of this particular narrative, it did not take long to get people on board (especially with the recent influx of youth activism). Several articles and news stories were written about how harmful household chemicals are to the consumer and the planet itself. Media outlets called companies to make cleaner, greener products; corporations were getting exposed to the chemicals they were using in their cleaners. It was enough to scare consumers into a media frenzy. Different blogs and social media sources exploded with opinions and outrages over the harm these products were doing. As with any activist call, there was a sense of “we need to do better.” (Science Daily).
Typically, all consumers want products that are all-natural and safer to use; the media just acted as a spotlight, shining on the problems and hazards with cleaning products. The shift to greener products was directly affected by the media and the demands of the consumers. However, without the media, the demands never would have been as loud or prevalent.
Gerster, Fabian, M., Vernez, David, Wild, Pascal, P., & Wild, Nancy, B. (2014). Hazardous substances in frequently used professional cleaning products. International journal of occupational and environmental health , 20 (1), 46-60.
Rosenman, Kenneth. (2006). Cleaning products – related asthma. Clinical Pulmonary Medicine , 13 (4), 221-228. doi: 10.1097/01.cpm.0000227253.84652.77
Ellsmoor, J. (2019, Aug. 4). US Businesses Are Benefiting From Ambitious Environmental Goals. Forbs.com. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesellsmoor/2019/08/04/us-businesses-are-benefiting-from-ambitious-environmental-goals/#1bad7f74e337
Laja. P. (2019, April 17). Purchase Decisions: 9 Things to Know About Influencing Customers. CXL.com/blog. https://cxl.com/blog/9-things-to-know-about-influencing-purchasing- decisions/
Lam, R. (2019, July 25). Go Green and Stay Sustainable – the Green Marketing Trend. GuinnesWorldRecords.com. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/commercial/2019/7/go-green-and- stay-sustainable-the-green-marketing-trend/.
Ruth, C. (2019, Sept. 27). 7 Benefits of Green Cleaning. Care.com. https://www.care.com/c/stories/5919/7-benefits-of-green-cleaning/.
Science Daily. (2008, January 22). Growing Consumer Demand for “Greener” Cleaning Products Sparks Industry Changes. Science Daily. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080121100554.htm
Watson, S. (2017, November 2). Are Green Cleaners Better for You? WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/asthma/news/20171102/are-green-cleaners-better-for-your-health