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Has U.S. Reached Green Turning Point? Depends Which Survey You Read

Eighty-seven percent of consumers are seriously concerned about the environment, according to the 2007 GfK Roper Green Gauge. The survey is interesting on a number of fronts, not least of which is how many of the findings seem to contradict a recent survey released by Yankelovich.

“Consumers are not drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to green,” said J. Walker Smith, president of Yankelovich. “While they’re highly aware of environmental issues due to the glut of media attention, the simple fact is that ‘?going green’ in their everyday life is simply not a big concern or a high priority.”

That survey found that only 34 percent of consumers feel much more concerned about environmental issues today than a year ago.

GfK Roper’s survey segmented respondents on their green attitudes and actions and identified five groups:

  • Apathetics: Not concerned enough about the environment to take action and believe environmental indifference is the mainstream. This group represents just 18 percent of the population. TV programs are their main source of environmental information.
  • Grousers: Generally uninvolved and disinterested in green issues; believe individual behavior cannot improve environment. 15 percent of the population. Newspapers again serve as their major information source on green issues.
  • Sprouts: Environmental “fence sitters” who buy green only if it meets their needs representing just over one quarter (26 percent) of the population. One third cite newspapers as their main source of green information.
  • Green Back Greens: Do not have time to be completely green and not likely to give up comfort and convenience for the environment, but willing to buy green products. They represent 10 percent of the population. Nearly half (49 percent) get information on green issues from newspapers.
  • True Blue Greens: Environmental leaders and activists most likely to walk the green talk representing almost one third (30 percent) of the population. Nearly half (48 percent) turn to environmental groups as their main source of green information.

Yankelovich illustrates a similar finding (with different results) by measuring the degree to which all consumers – from “Green-less” to “Green-Enthusiasts” – are currently likely to buy a product based on its green features.

  • Green-less (29 percent) Unmoved by environmental issues and alarms.
  • Green-bits (19 percent) Don’t care but doing a few things.
  • Green-steps (25 percent) Aware, concerned taking steps.
  • Green-speaks (15 percent) Talk the talk more than walk the walk.
  • Green-thusiasts (13 percent) Environment is a passionate concern.

Again, the numbers have some contradictions. GfK Roper’s survey says that 30 percent of the U.S. population are environmental activists. Yankelovich pegs the number of people passionate about the environment at 13 percent.

So why are the results so different? Last month, EL covered a Marketing Green article about two surveys that measured how concerned teens are about the environment. Surveys and the reporting of survey results can be misleading, according to the post. Marketers should be wary of very high (and low) responses to questions (or any result that does not pass the gut check), as they are often a sign that the question was leading or unclear to respondents.

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5 thoughts on “Has U.S. Reached Green Turning Point? Depends Which Survey You Read

  1. I believe that the surveys both reflect an increasing awareness (and perhaps concern) of the US population with respect to “green” issues. This is largely due to increased media coverage of issues such as climate change, over the past three years.

  2. The retailing industry has a powerful opportunity to direct consumer choice. When retailers stock only green products, it will not matter what consumers think. They must and will buy green.

  3. This is a biased article. You guys are morons if you don’t think that “34 percent of consumers” changing their perspective on then environment in a one year period is significant. I’m not even a very Green person, but you clearly have some agenda on this matter.

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