JLL Shopper Study

As sustainability continues to expand throughout the retail sector, a new study of shopper attitudes suggests that that going green can be both good citizenship and a potent marketing tool. However, the survey also indicates that retailers, owners and operators have a lot of customer education on sustainability ahead. “It’s going to be a big push on our part and on our retailers’ part,” said Carol Sullivan, vice president of marketing for Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s West Coast operations. The firm commissioned the e-mail survey study by Alexander Babbage Inc. in order to guide retailer and owner strategies at the 100-plus retail centers that Jones Lang LaSalle manages in the U.S. Demographically, the poll respondents skewed female (89 percent), white (80 percent) and college-educated (44 percent graduates, 27 percent with at least some college). Nearly one-quarter of the 1,579 respondents said that they would go out of their way to shop at a center considered environmentally friendly and socially responsible. But 59 percent said that they do not make a special effort to visit a shopping center using green measures, even though they personally value those steps. The study found that shoppers’ willingness to make sacrifices for sustainability has its limits. Forty percent said that they would do what it takes to protect and improve the environment, even if they had to give up certain luxuries. But the majority—58 percent—agreed with the statement, “I will do my part to conserve as long as it does not affect my standard of living.” Nevertheless, the study revealed positive feelings about green measures that may provide retailers and owners with fertile ground to encourage sustainability at their properties. About 51 percent of the survey’s respondents said that they always recycle at home, 23 percent reported driving an energy-efficient vehicle, and 63 percent said that they buy environmentally friendly products at least some of the time. Half said they are interested in finding out how they can decrease their personal “carbon footprint” and impact on the environment. More than half responded that they would be at least somewhat likely to buy environmentally friendly items as gifts. The survey also explored shopper attitudes toward re-usable shopping bags, which a growing number of grocery stores and department stores are making available. Thirty-nine percent reported that they sometimes or always shop with re-usable bags, but 59 percent said that they never do. But more than eight of 10 survey respondents said they would shop only with re-usable bags—if they could get them for free. “The more they see of (re-usable) bags, the more we’ll be able to push this initiative forward,” Sullivan predicted. In response to the survey results, Discover is sponsoring a promotion from April 21 to May 21. Customers buying gift cards with their Discover cards from April 21 to May 21 will get a re-usable shopping bag, she said.