Consumer Interest in Green Products Expands Across Categories Developing countries place higher value on green products, while price continues to be a factor in developed countries

Seventh Generation, Whole Foods, Tom's of Maine Top 2011 US ImagePower® Global Green Brands

MONTEREY, Calif., June 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumer appetite for green products has increased significantly in the past year, according to findings from the annual ImagePower® Global Green Brands Study, one of the largest global consumer surveys of green brands and corporate environmental responsibility.  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.

Industries protecting the environment

Consumers are divided on which industry currently does the best job of protecting the environment. 18 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.

Where consumers are spending

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 2011 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," said 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."

Greater perceived value in developing countries

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.

"Consumers in developing countries express greater concern over the state of the environment in their countries, which may contribute to their greater willingness to pay more for green products," said Paul Andrepont, Senior Vice President of Penn Schoen Berland. "Consumers in these markets also differ from their developed-nation counterparts in believing that selection, rather than cost, is the greatest barrier to buying green products. Brands that address these consumers' very real concern – over air pollution in India or deforestation in Brazil – have the ability to position themselves as premium in the market, a possible competitive advantage."  

Packaging is critical

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,'" said 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

For the first time since the inception of the ImagePower® Green Brands Study in 2006, the four brands perceived to be the greenest are "born green" companies. 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.  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."    

Methodology

The seventh annual Green Brands study polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries —including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Brazil, India, Germany, France and Australia—and was conducted by WPP agencies (NASDAQ: WPPGY) Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland Associates (PSB), as well as independent sustainability strategy consulting firm Esty Environmental Partners. The Green Brands Study identifies emerging trends related to consumer perception and purchasing behavior of "green" products.  The study was conducted online among the general adult population between April 2, 2011 and May 3, 2011. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.0%. In China, India, and Brazil, respondents were from tier-one cities.

To view 2011 global findings, click here. For US findings, click here.

About Cohn & Wolfe

Founded in 1970, Cohn & Wolfe is a global communications agency driven by a culture of innovation and an uncompromised commitment to creativity. As one of the first PR agencies to offer a full-service global sustainability practice, Cohn & Wolfe's annual Green Brands survey is the foremost study of consumers' perception of green practices in business and which brands they think are best at being green. Cohn & Wolfe's award-winning brand marketing and world-class digital media campaigns continue to attract top brands around the world—clients who crave a deeper, more dynamic connection with their customers and stakeholders. With over 1,000 employees in more than 50 offices across North America, EMEA, and Asia, Cohn & Wolfe is part of WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY)  one of the world's largest communications services group. www.cohnwolfe.com  

About Esty Environmental Partners

Esty Environmental Partners (EEP) is a management consultancy working with corporate clients to build high-impact environmental strategies that create sustainable business value. EEP serves a range of companies, from Fortune 500 to small business, in diverse industries including apparel, financial services, industrial, and consumer packaged goods.  EEP clients are executives whose responsibilities include corporate environmental affairs and sustainability, product line management, facilities management, and the highest levels of company or division general management. They engage EEP's team of experienced environmental and business professionals to help them build core capabilities, innovate, and differentiate their companies through environmental strategy.  To learn more, please visit www.EstyEP.com.

About Landor Associates
Landor Associates is one of the world's leading strategic brand consulting and design firms. Founded by Walter Landor in 1941, Landor pioneered many of the design and consulting methods that are now standard in the branding industry. Partnering with clients, Landor drives business transformation and performance by creating brands that are more innovative, progressive, and dynamic than their competitors. With 21 offices in 16 countries, Landor's current and past clients include some of the world's most powerful brands, including BlackBerry, Citi, the Council on Foreign Relations, Diageo, Hilton Hotels, HP, Jet Airways, Microsoft, MillerCoors, Panasonic, PGA of America, Procter & Gamble, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, and Verizon. Landor is a member of the Young & Rubicam Brands network within WPP, one of the world's largest marketing and communications firms. For more information, please visit www.landor.com.

About Penn Schoen Berland

Penn Schoen Berland, a unit of the WPP Group (NASDAQ: WPPGY), is a global research-based consultancy that specializes in messaging and communications strategy for blue-chip political, corporate and entertainment clients. We have over 30 years of experience in leveraging unique insights about consumer opinion to provide clients with a competitive advantage - what we call Winning Knowledge™. PSB executes polling and message testing services for Fortune 100 corporations and has helped elect more than 30 presidents and prime ministers around the world. More information is available at www.psbresearch.com

SOURCE Cohn & Wolfe



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