Consumer appetite for green products has increased significantly in the past year, according to findings from the annual ImagePower Global Green Brands Study.
This year’s survey, which polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries, reveals that consumers worldwide intend to purchase more environmental products in the auto, energy and technology sectors compared to last year. Now more savvy about how green choices in personal care, food and household products directly affect them and their families, global consumers are expanding their green purchase interest to higher-ticket items such as cars and technology.
Consumers are divided on which industry currently does the best job of protecting the environment. Eighteen percent of American and 20 percent of Australian consumers say the energy industry does the best job of protecting the environment. By comparison, most of respondents in Germany (19 percent), India (22 percent), China (33 percent) and Brazil (22 percent) cite the technology sector. In the UK, more than 21 percent of consumers say the grocery store industry is the top protector of the environment.
While personal care, grocery and household products are the industries with the greatest representation among the top ten brands list, consumers in the US indicate that they intend to spend more money on green technology, energy and automotive products or services in the next year.
When it comes to current usage of green products or services, the study reveals that the household products and grocery categories have the highest consumer adoption rates in all countries except China, where packaged goods/beverages and personal care are the most used categories, and in Brazil, where household products and personal care dominate. In all countries, consumers indicate that in the coming year they are less likely to buy green packaged goods and beverages, grocery and household products.
“We’re seeing a shift in the ‘In Me, On Me, Around Me’ mentality when it comes to purchasing green products,” says Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer of Landor Associates. “Consumers have a good understanding of how green choices in personal care, food and household products directly affect their families, and they are now seeing benefits like costs savings that attract them to higher cost items like cars and technology.”
Consistent with last year’s study, more than 60 percent of consumers globally want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. Respondents in all eight countries surveyed indicate that they are willing to spend more on green products. In developed countries such as the US and the UK, roughly 20 percent of those surveyed would spend more than 10 percent extra on a green product.
In developing countries, however, consumers say that green products have a higher inherent value.
Ninety-five percent of Chinese consumers say they are willing to spend more on a product because it’s green—with 55 percent of them willing to spend between 11-30 percent more. Similarly 29 percent of Indian consumers and 48 percent of Brazilians say they are willing to spend between 11 – 30 percent more on green products.
Packaging continues to be a matter of great concern for US consumers. Seventy-one percent believe companies use too much material in product packaging, though only 34 percent of US consumers say they consciously purchase products that use less packaging. Almost half of American consumers feel that packaging that can be recycled is more important than packaging made from recycled or biodegradable materials.
Packaging also plays a critical role in communicating product benefits to US consumers. More than 50 percent of American consumers say on-pack information helps them understand how green a product is. Additionally, 40 percent say that packaging is their primary source for information on environmental issues regarding products.
“Other than price, the two biggest influences on purchase decisions are on-package messaging and prior experience with the product, both of which satisfy the consumer need to understand a benefit beyond ‘saving the world,’” says Annie Longsworth, global sustainability practice leader for Cohn & Wolfe. “It’s critical for green brands to communicate the real and tangible benefits of their products in addition to being green, which still feels like luxury to many consumers.”
2011 US rankings
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
10. Starbucks, Microsoft (tied)