Is the Improving Economy Hurting Green Brands?
Green attitudes are gaining ground, but green purchases and behaviors are stagnant or heading south. And theÂ economy may be theÂ culprit, according to the Shelton Groupâs seventh annual Eco Pulse study.
Eco Pulse polls American consumers each year toÂ track shifts in theirÂ attitudes, purchases and behaviors related to sustainability.
The study found thatÂ with the exception of recycling, self-reported green behaviors andÂ product purchases are generally stagnant or down across theÂ board â from homeÂ energy and water conservation habits and product purchases, to transportationÂ activities, to greener cleaning, personal care and foodÂ product purchases.
But, says CEO Suzanne Shelton, the good news for green brands is that 70 percent of consumers want greener products and corporate commitments to sustainability are becoming a baselineÂ criterion for productÂ consideration.
The study shows a continuing trend in theÂ way Americans identify green products, relying less on packaging call-outs andÂ more on overall corporateÂ reputation and certifications. Half the populationÂ said that a companyâs environmental reputation impacts their decisions as toÂ whether or not to buy itsÂ products, and this impact is even stronger for thoseÂ searching for greener products.
Specifically the study found:
- Over a quarter of the market rely onÂ certifications in their identification and selection of green products, butÂ almost 30 percentÂ of Americans saidÂ they know a product is green based on the companyâsÂ environmental record.
- When asked the things that mostÂ strongly contribute to green reputation, the study shows increased emphasis onÂ improving product content, suchÂ as removing chemicals of concern or addingÂ recycled content, and reducing waste. However, corporate social responsibilityÂ initiatives also haveÂ a strong impact, as evidenced by unaided recall results.Â Many brands identified as green are not technically sustainable, but haveÂ successfullyÂ adopted environmental, health or human service initiatives thatÂ seem to be giving them a âgreen halo.â
- Respondents were asked what they would do if aÂ company that makes their favorite toilet paper and advertised itself as greenÂ were to receive aÂ government fine for failing emissions standards or forÂ polluting a nearby river. Results remained consistent with previous years, withÂ almost 70Â percent saying theyâd stop buying the product. Specifically, 50Â percent said theyâd stop buying, and 19 percent would not only stop buying, butÂ also encourage others to do the same. Only 30 percent said they would likelyÂ continue to buy the product.
- WhileÂ green productÂ purchase drivers can vary across productÂ categories, results showed that the top two drivers (natural resourceÂ conservation,Â 25 percent; health and safety, 23 percent) are the same as theyÂ were five years ago â the last time the study asked this question.
Last year’s Eco Pulse found green consumers are affluent, early adopters and extremely brand loyal.
Image Credit: green company via Shutterstock
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