The fifth annual ImagePower® Green Brands Survey polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries and was conducted by Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), as well as independent strategy consulting firm Esty Environmental Partners. The Green Brands Survey identifies emerging trends related to consumer perception and purchasing behavior of “green” products. The 2010 ImagePower® Green Brands Survey reveals that consumers are committed to purchasing from green companies around the world.

by Julie Urlaub , Founder and Managing Partner of Taiga Company. Follow Julie on Twitter @TaigaCompany

Annie Longsworth, President and Managing Director of the San Francisco office of Cohn & Wolfe has helped establish the office in one of the world’s most influential business regions – one that has spawned both the technology and green revolutions. Last week was no different as Annie took the stage at Sustainable Brands 2010 to present new research that explores specific behaviors and attitudes that are driving (or preventing) purchase of sustainable products, as well as the latest public perception about which brands are the best at being green.

The sixth round of ImagePower Green Brands Survey, presented by Esty Environmental Partners, Penn Schoen Berland, Landor Associates and Cohn & Wolfe, features a fresh perspectives into consumers’ attitudes toward corporate environmental sustainability and green products.  The survey reveals that barriers to going green and environmental concerns are not consistent, however consumer commitment to purchasing from green companies is shared around the world.

“The 2010 Green Brands Survey demonstrates the growing importance of consumer concerns and eco-literacy to companies.  It is striking that interest in the environment and sustainability appears to be on the rise in markets all across the world, but the specific issues on which consumers are focused varies from country to country,” said Dan Esty, chairman of Esty Environmental Partners.  “The message is that companies must not only develop environmental strategies to address their most important global impacts, but they also need to be able to connect with consumers in a compelling and relevant way on a market-by-market basis.”

In early 2010, 9,000 consumers in 8 countries were surveys and over 400 brands researched. The findings?

  • Consumers want to buy green but there’s a price barrier, particularly in developing countries. The majority of consumers—over 60 percent—in all countries want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. The 2010 data indicates that the majority of consumers plan to spend the same or more money on green products in the coming year, with more than 70 percent of consumers in China, India and Brazil saying they will spend more.
  • When consumers were asked which concerns you most: environment or economy (an either / or question; consumers could not answer both), the economy won. In fact, 79% of Americans are more concerned about the economy than the environment. However, in China and Brazil, the environment was a higher concern- a noted trend for developing countries.
  • When consumers were asked how important is it to purchase from environmentally friendly companies, 60% said it was very important. Again, developing countries prevailed with Brazil, India and China, consumers’ rated over 90% importance.
  • More than two-thirds of respondents in each country polled cite reducing toxics and dangerous substances as the most important activity a company can do to be green, followed by water conservation or recycling. Consumers also say environmental consciousness is an important corporate priority, ranking in importance behind ‘good value,’ ‘trustworthy’ and ‘caring about customers.’
  • As for the developing world and the US, the number one issue for Americans when it comes to the environment is climate change. In the developing world, consumers are overwhelmingly more concerned about state of environment than economy. Brazil, China, India want more green products and spend more on green than developed countries like the US.
  • Some consumers use labels to ID green products whereas other countries learn about green products via advertising. In every country, climate change is seen as the biggest issue. US and UK worry about energy. Other countries: water and deforestation.
  • In the United States, 75 percent of consumers say that it is somewhat or very important to them that the brands they buy come from green companies, although more people said that this was ‘very important’ in 2009

“While the economy has driven down the priority of green for consumers, we can expect that as the recovery continues, the importance of green will come roaring back,”observed Scott Siff, executive vice president of Penn Schoen Berland

The top ten U.S. brands perceived to be the greenest in this year’s study include newcomers Aveeno and Microsoft. The complete list includes:

  1. Burt’s Bees
  2. Whole Foods
  3. Tom’s of Maine
  4. Trader Joe’s
  5. Google
  6. Aveeno
  7. SC Johnson
  8. Publix
  9. Microsoft
  10. Ikea

Download the full 2010 Green Brands list

“One of the interesting trends we’re seeing this year is the consumer recognition of what we’re calling ‘helper brands,” which provide useful information to consumers,” said Longsworth. “While preference for brands that are ‘in me, on me, around me’ is still prevalent, consumers also value brands that make going green easier for them through online tools, tips and other forms of engagement through communication.”

© 2010 – 2011, Julie_Urlaub. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Julie_Urlaub (7 Articles)

Julie Urlaub is Founder and Managing Partner of Taiga Company, a sustainability consulting firm located in Houston, Texas dedicated to accelerating the integration of sustainability concepts in business and daily living. Julie leverages over 15 years of Consulting and Business Development experience in Energy Management Services, Oil and Gas, Medical, and Information Technology industries. Today, as a sustainability consultant, Julie speaks, writes, and advises clients on a variety of issues related to the intersection between environmental stewardship, sustainable business practices, and sustainable living. Visit Taiga Company's website