Is the Improving Economy Hurting Green Brands?
Green attitudes are gaining ground, but green purchases and behaviors are stagnant or heading south. And the¬†economy may be the¬†culprit, according to the Shelton Group‚Äôs seventh annual Eco Pulse study.
Eco Pulse polls American consumers each year to¬†track shifts in their¬†attitudes, purchases and behaviors related to sustainability.
The study found that¬†with the exception of recycling, self-reported green behaviors and¬†product purchases are generally stagnant or down across the¬†board ‚ÄĒ from home¬†energy and water conservation habits and product purchases, to transportation¬†activities, to greener cleaning, personal care and food¬†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 baseline¬†criterion for product¬†consideration.
The study shows a continuing trend in the¬†way Americans identify green products, relying less on packaging call-outs and¬†more on overall corporate¬†reputation and certifications. Half the population¬†said that a company‚Äôs environmental reputation impacts their decisions as to¬†whether or not to buy its¬†products, and this impact is even stronger for those¬†searching for greener products.
Specifically the study found:
- Over a quarter of the market rely on¬†certifications in their identification and selection of green products, but¬†almost 30 percent¬†of Americans said¬†they know a product is green based on the company‚Äôs¬†environmental record.
- When asked the things that most¬†strongly contribute to green reputation, the study shows increased emphasis on¬†improving product content, such¬†as removing chemicals of concern or adding¬†recycled content, and reducing waste. However, corporate social responsibility¬†initiatives also have¬†a strong impact, as evidenced by unaided recall results.¬†Many brands identified as green are not technically sustainable, but have¬†successfully¬†adopted environmental, health or human service initiatives that¬†seem to be giving them a ‚Äúgreen halo.‚ÄĚ
- Respondents were asked what they would do if a¬†company that makes their favorite toilet paper and advertised itself as green¬†were to receive a¬†government fine for failing emissions standards or for¬†polluting a nearby river. Results remained consistent with previous years, with¬†almost 70¬†percent saying they‚Äôd stop buying the product. Specifically, 50¬†percent said they‚Äôd stop buying, and 19 percent would not only stop buying, but¬†also encourage others to do the same. Only 30 percent said they would likely¬†continue to buy the product.
- While¬†green product¬†purchase drivers can vary across product¬†categories, results showed that the top two drivers (natural resource¬†conservation,¬†25 percent; health and safety, 23 percent) are the same as they¬†were five years ago ‚ÄĒ 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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