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Consumers balk at 'green' in tight economy

April 22, 2011 at 1:11 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, April 22 (UPI) -- U.S. sales of household products labeled "green" have faded in recent years, especially among offerings from blue-chip companies, a research firm said.

For example, sales of Clorox's Green Works products have dropped from $100 million to $60 million a year, The New York Times reported Friday.

The drop has come as fickle consumers say environmentally friendly is important, but so is price. In turn, Clorox has slashed its advertising budget for its Green Works division from $25 million per year in 2008 and 2009 to $1.4 million in 2010, advertising watchdog firm Kantar Media reported.

S.C. Johnson, which produces Nature's Source cleaners, spent $15.4 million advertising its earth-friendly line in 2009. Last year it cut its advertising budget for Nature's Source products to zero, the Times said.

Every consumer says, 'I want to help the environment, I'm looking for eco-friendly products.' But if it's one or two pennies higher in price, they're not going to buy it," said David Donnan, a partner at consumer products consulting company A.T. Kearney.

Research shows independent companies such as Seventh Generation and Simple Green are holding their own and even gaining market share.

"You see disproportionately negative impact from products … out of the big blue-chip companies … and a relatively better performance from the niche players who remain independent," said industry analyst Stephen Powers, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

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