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Green Products are 'Sweet Spot' for Spending During Downtown

Although consumers have dialed back their spending in a big way, a new study finds that when people do spend these days more than 75 percent consider environmental and social aspects in deciding what to buy and about a third are willing to pay more for those benefits.

According to The Hartman Group's latest report, "Sustainability: The Rise of Consumer Responsibility," more than 88 percent of consumers surveyed said they engage in what the researchers described as sustainable behavior.

The such behavior broadly takes in considerations including packaging, recycling, how a product was made, how workers were treated in the process and community issues.

"During these tough economic times, sustainable products create that 'sweet spot' that make consumers more optimistic about the choices they are making," Alison Worthington, Hartman Group managing director of sustainability, said in a statement,

The researchers found that the spending considerations and expressed consumer desires for "responsibility" and "doing the right thing" prevailed even though those being surveyed weren't always entirely sure about how to define sustainability.

In fact, just 56 percent of those surveyed said they are familiar with the term, only slightly more than the 54 percent who said in 2007 that they are familiar with the word. And less than 25 percent of those surveyed in 2008 could name a sustainable product when asked, according to the study.

"This represents a significant opportunity for companies to get their message out," Worthington said in her company's announcement of the report's release.

The survey represents the latest research on spending habits showing that environmental responsibility in purchasing has shown resilience during these tough economic times. Other studies and articles have included looks at corporate green spending and investments.

The Hartman Group conducted its online survey about consumer spending with 1,856 adults from September 19 through 24 last year within days of the collapse of Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers.

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