Shoppers around the world are more likely to buy environmentally friendly products during the economic downturn, a new report says, which will be reassuring to companies that have invested heavily in green products.

According to research published by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in its report 'Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies,' more shoppers systematically purchased green products in 2008 than in 2007.

In a survey of 9,000 adults in nine countries, some 34% of Europeans (up 2% from 2007) said they would continue to look for and purchase green products, while 32% of US consumers said the same.

In Italy, 20% of consumers - the highest proportion of the nine countries surveyed - reported that they shop for green products in a systematic way, followed by Spain (17%), the US (16%), the UK (15%) and Japan (11%).

The findings suggest consumers have not abandoned their ethical principles as their financial woes have increased.

More good news for suppliers is that some consumers are willing to pay a premium for green products - so long as they were convinced that the products offer direct benefits.