Confused Teens Choose ‘Less Expensive’ over ‘Green’

April 22, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Brand Metrics | Creative & Formats | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Though conventional wisdom suggests that the Millennial generation (ages 13-29) is leading the charge to make Earth a better place, a survey from Generate Insight finds that despite being the most environmentally educated, younger members of this generation are not taking action on what they know because they are often confused about green products and feel powerless to help.

The survey of 13-29 year olds, which was designed to gauge how members of the Millennial generation perceive the green movement and brands’ attempts to be green, revealed an extremely high level of education about green issues overall.

Generate Insight also revealed the top words/feelings that Millennials associate with the “green movement:


Despite this high level of knowledge and upbeat, positive association with being environmentally conscious, Millennials report they do not always put their knowledge to use because of the high cost of environmentally friendly products, as well as the seeming enormity and insurmountability of environmental problems and doubts about whether they can really make a difference, Generate Insight said.

Price Trumps Green

The research found that while 76% of Millennials ages 13-29 feel it’s very important or important for brands to get involved in the green movement, 71% of teens (ages 13-17) surveyed say if they had to choose between a less expensive product or one that “gave back” to the environment, they would choose the less expensive product:


In contrast, the majority of older Millennials? would choose the more expensive brand that gave back in a green way.

Interestingly, the majority of Millennials surveyed found it confusing as to why products that are better for the environment are more expensive. Generate Insight noted that the extra cost – without consistent explanation – discourages the majority of shoppers from embracing and contributing to the green movement.

The study also found several other deterrents to Millennials living greener lives. These include products that require too much effort, are too time consuming and are not convenient; products that are confusing and difficult to understand, and families that are not involved in, supportive of or knowledgeable about the green movement.

Additional findings from the survey:

  • 74% of Millennials believe they can make a difference in helping Earth, but the number decreases significantly among the 13-17-year olds. Only 48% of 13-17-year-olds feel they can make a difference because the problems are too huge for them to move the needle.


  • In terms of contributing most to living green, 87% of Millennials recycle; 84% turn off lights when not in use; 80% reduce water use; and 73% use energy-efficient light bulbs.
  • The top three biggest hurdles this generation faces when embracing the green movement are cost (41%), proof that they’re making a difference (24%), and ease of use ( 12%).
  • 76% of Millennials feel it’s very important or important for brands to get involved in the green movement.


  • The segment of Millennials with the highest planned participation rate in an Earth-Day event are 18-21 year olds (65%).
  • 53% of Millennials state that they know a lot about the green movement but are “always willing to learn more.”
  • 54% of Millennials state that they care about the environment and are interested to get more involved.
  • 37% of Millennials want to be more green but just don’t know how to do it.
  • 79% of Millennials say that the internet educates them on environmental issues, while 85% of Millennials ages 13-17 state that school is their main source for eco-education.

Janis Gaudelli, SVP and head of Generate Insight suggests that brands that present easy, yet effective ways for Millennials to reduce, reuse and refresh will empower this generation to both put their extensive green knowledge to use and make more purchasing decisions based on that information.


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