NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid a climate of economic uncertainty, Americans now place a higher value on their own financial stability over environmental responsibility. However, they are still looking to make sensible environmental choices according to the 2011 Green Gauge® US Report from GfK Roper Consulting, a division of GfK Custom Research North America.
A Shifting Mindset
The GfK Green Gauge US Report has been examining environmental attitudes and behaviors of global consumers since 1992, and the 2011 report found that 41 percent of Americans say "first comes economic security then we can worry about environmental problems." This dramatic 13 percentage point increase from the pre-recession levels of 2007, when just 28 percent would put economic considerations ahead of the environment, clearly reflects today's low levels of consumer confidence and increased personal worry about the nation's current economic malaise.
In addition, while most think concern about the environment is at least somewhat serious, fewer are saying that concern about the environment is "very serious and should be a priority for everyone" (33% in 2011 vs. 46% in 2007).
At the same time Americans are refocusing their efforts when it comes to green activities, concentrating more on actions that are simple and practical. Compared to 2008, more consumers today are drinking tap water instead of bottled water (63 percent, up 5 percentage points) and are bringing their own re-usable bags to the supermarket (39 percent, up 11 percentage points). However, during that same period, fewer consumers are avoiding products that they feel are not environmentally responsible (24 percent, down 6 percentage points).
"How Americans are participating in environmental protection is shifting. For a large portion of the population it is much more about what one can do as opposed to what one can buy," said Timothy Kenyon, director of the GfK Roper Green Gauge Report. "They want common sense environmental solutions that help them make sensible changes to their lifestyle while still not significantly impacting them financially."
Skepticism Still Exists, But Trending Downward
The report also found an increased showing of goodwill to corporate environmental protection. Since 2007, the number of respondents saying business and industry are fulfilling their responsibility to the environment has increased eight percentage points to 37 percent.
There is also evidence that Americans are increasingly comfortable with business' green claims. The Green Gauge US Report found that 39 percent say business' claims about the environment are not accurate, compared to 2008 when 48 percent said that business' claims were not accurate.
"Many US consumers still maintain a level of skepticism when companies make environmental claims, but we are seeing a shift in attitudes and behaviors as the perceived greenwashing, or unsubstantiated claims of environmental friendliness of everyday products, is on the wane," said Kenyon.
A sample of 2012 adults 18 years of age or over in the United States was interviewed for this study using the GfK Online Consumer Panel. Interviews were completed June 9 - July 5, 2011. All completed interviews were weighted to resemble the demographic characteristics of the online population age 18 years and older as defined by the MRI Fall 2010 survey weighted demos among online adults.
GfK Roper Partners with SC Johnson
It has been two decades since SC Johnson commissioned the groundbreaking study, The Environment: Public Attitudes and Individual Behavior. Executed by GfK Roper in 1990, the SC Johnson research was the precursor to the Green Gauge Report and was the first large-scale survey to measure both green attitudes and behavior. As such, it provided rich insight into the future of Americans' commitment to preserving and protecting the environment.
"Today, we believe, as we did twenty years ago, that we must be the role model for responsible environmental behavior. Our leadership will help guide others to make better environmental choices," said Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President – Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability at SC Johnson. "In 1990 the American consumer's perceptions and actions were very different than they are today."
Twenty years later, SC Johnson has revisited the original research, sponsoring a series of unique survey questions on the syndicated Green Gauge Report to add to the current stable of knowledge about American attitudes and behaviors with respect to the environment. These questions tap both the most current environmental issues, and also reprise some of the seminal questions from the original 1990 research.
About GfK Roper Consulting
A division of GfK Custom Research North America, GfK Roper Consulting is comprised of GfK's syndicated consumer trend services -- GfK Roper Reports® US, GfK Roper Reports® Worldwide, GfK Roper Green Gauge® and the GfK Roper Youth Report -- which monitor consumer values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors in the US and more than 25 other countries. GfK Roper Consulting's mission is to help clients turn insights into inspiration and foresight into advantage worldwide.
About GfK Custom Research North America
Headquartered in New York, GfK Custom Research North America is part of the GfK Group. The GfK Group offers the fundamental knowledge that industry, retailers, services companies and the media need to make market decisions. It delivers a comprehensive range of information and consultancy services in the three business sectors Custom Research, Retail and Technology and Media. The No. 4 market research organization worldwide operates in more than 100 countries and employs over 11,000 staff. In 2010, the GfK Group's sales amounted to EUR 1.29 billion. For more information visit www.gfkamerica.com. Follow us at www.gfkinsights4u.com or on Twitter @gfkamerica.
About SC Johnson
SC Johnson is a family-owned and managed business dedicated to innovative, high-quality products, excellence in the workplace and a long-term commitment to the environment and the communities in which it operates. Based in the USA, the company is one of the world's leading manufacturers of household cleaning products and products for home storage, air care and pest control. It markets such well-known brands as GLADE®, KIWI®, OFF!®, PLEDGE®, RAID®, SCRUBBING BUBBLES®, SHOUT®, WINDEX® and ZIPLOC® in the U.S. and beyond, with brands marketed outside the U.S. including AUTAN®, TANA®, BAMA®, BAYGON®, BRISE®, KABIKILLER®, KLEAR®, MR. MUSCLE®, and RIDSECT®. The 125-year-old company, that generates $9 billion in sales, employs approximately 12,000 people globally and sells products in virtually every country around the world. www.scjohnson.com
SOURCE GfK Custom Research North America