Consumers Note the Importance of Green, Economy a Barrier
The ImagePower Green Brands Survey 2009, co-produced by Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates, and Penn, Schoen & Berland, reports the attitudes of over 5,000 consumers from seven countries toward a variety of green issues.
The report offers insight into what consumers feel makes a green corporation stand out, their perceptions of brands, and where their spending is going in the next year. A global attitude toward green issues is painted by the data. Apparently the U.S., though its heart may be green, is more focused on the greenback.
The United States tops the list of countries where economic concerns overshadow environmental ones. The 17% of U.S. consumers more concerned about the environment than the economy stand out in stark comparison to Brazil's 62% and India's 53%. Economic concern is mirrored in the top reason given for not purchasing green products and services – 64% of those in the U.S. consider these too expensive. (Consumers in other countries feel more limited by the availability.) The U.S. consumer does plan to spend more on these products and services over the next year – at least 39% of those surveyed do. However, the extent to which they plan to raise their spending places them at best in the middle of the seven countries surveyed. This is not to say that U.S. consumers don't feel that being green is important, they do, just not as much as consumers elsewhere.
Twenty-three percent of respondents from the U.S. consider a company's environmental attitude "very important" when shopping around. Still, the U.S. finds itself in the lower half of this list; only the U.K with 15% and Germany with 20% were below it. When including the category "somewhat important" the U.S. fared dropped to the bottom; its 77% (apparently a high percentage) has it tied with the U.K. and Germany for last place.
Taken one way these numbers could paint a bleak picture of environmental attitudes and the perception of green brands. However, it is overwhelmingly clear that consumers want to go green and respect companies that do so. This is universal.
Right now it is more important than ever for companies to be seen as environmentally conscious. Consumers across the globe are asking for this and there is consensus on what they want to see,
". . . the most important thing a company should do to be considered green is reducing toxics; simply partnering with green organizations is not enough."
This commentary written by David Martel