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Seventh Gen, Whole Foods Top Green Brands Ranking

Seventh Generation and Whole Foods have topped survey respondents’ rankings of the greenest U.S. brands, even as consumer appetite for green products expands to include big-ticket items like cars and electronics.

Tom’s of Maine and Burt’s Bees came third and fourth in the rankings, compiled as part of the 2011 ImagePower Global Green Brands Study, carried out by Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland Associates (PSB), as well as independent sustainability strategy consulting firm Esty Environmental Partners.

The full list includes:

1. Seventh Generation
2. Whole Foods
3. Tom’s of Maine
4. Burt’s Bees
5. Trader Joe’s
6. The Walt Disney Company
7. S.C. Johnson
8. Dove
9. Apple
10. Starbucks, Microsoft (tied)

“When we analyzed the approach of the top ten brands companies, using our Esty Environmental Scorecard, it was clear that the winners achieve a product-value-information trifecta,” said Amy Longsworth, partner at Esty Environmental Partners.

“The top brands offer clear price value through co-benefits:  a great innovative product that meets my functional needs plus green attributes that meet my values needs,” Longsworth added. “These companies also tend to have robust life-cycle insight and complete sustainability strategies across their value chains, which enable them to draw from rich experience and data for their consumer communications.”

The survey found that consumer appetite for green products — in the past focused on personal care, food and household products — has expanded to include big-ticket purchases. Consumers worldwide intend to purchase more environmental products in the auto, energy and technology sectors compared to last year, the study found.

Consumers still buy the most green products in the grocery, household and personal-care categories, with roughly half of respondents making purchases in these categories, consistent with last year’s survey. But they are looking more closely at making green purchasing decisions on more expensive items. 22 percent of U.S. consumers said that they intend to purchase green tech products in the next year, up from 14 percent in 2010.

In the automotive sector, 12 percent of U.S. respondents said that they intend to go green, while 6 percent said that they purchased green vehicles last year. In energy, 27 percent of U.S. respondents intend to purchase green power, up from 24 percent in 2010.

In the survey, 73 percent said it is important to buy from green companies, but price perception remains a challenge — 62 percent see cost as the biggest barrier to buying green products. When evaluating what makes a brand a green leader, respondents mentioned their awareness of a brand’s corporate actions, values, recycling and packaging efforts, sustainability and supply chain decisions.

Overall, the report found that 54 percent of U.S. consumers think the environment is on the wrong track, up from previous polls: 47 percent of Americans thought so in 2010, while only 41 percent had this concern in 2009.

Meanwhile, around the globe, the poll found that only 43 percent of U.K. consumers feel the environment is off-track, down from 53 percent in 2009. In China, 39 percent reported environmental concerns, up from 29 percent last year. Germany, India and Brazil all had about 60 percent of respondents in 2011 indicating that they think the environment is on the wrong track.

The survey polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries.

Results are available in either a comparative global slide deck, or a deck that breaks out U.S. data.

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