Research in the US and UK shows that the credit crunch has knocked the
green issue from the top of the agenda; while a survey in New Zealand
finds consumers wary of companies' eco-claims
Slowdown puts climate in shade
(ImagePower survey: Green brands)
|Beware of greenwash
A survey by G2 of New Zealanders has found that a majority are skeptical about green claims made by companies, and believe they are being simply as a marketing tool. The findings came from G2's Eye on New Zealand research and showed that 67 per cent of New Zealanders believed most companies were not as environmentally conscious as they claimed.
Sarah Norrie, the agency's managing director said: "There may well be some companies greenwashing to sell more product." And she added: "80 per cent of New Zealanders we surveyed want companies to tell us what they're doing in terms of their green practices, but half of them don't believe it when they say and market that they are."
In an interview on New Zealand television's One News Breakfast Show, she agreed that consumers often don't understand the terminology and said that half of those in survey think that carbon offsets and carbon credits mean the same thing.
The agency would be encouraging its
clients to err on the side of caution in making
claims in a 30-second commercial, and
instead to concentrate on educating consumers,
The survey was carried out by Australian company, Sweeney Research.
CONCERN about the environment has been eclipsed by fears about the economy, according to the latest ImagePower®
Green Brands survey by Landor Associates, Cohn & Wolfe and Penn, Schoen & Berland. The study, conducted in the US and the UK, found that more than 75 per cent of Americans and 66 per cent of Britons ranked the economy as higher among their concerns.
"We have been tracking perceptions of green for over three years, and this year's results are somewhat alarming in that they indicate consumers only prioritize the environment when all other concerns are equal," said Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer of Landor. "With agricultural commodities running low and the rising cost of gas in the United States, Americans indicate they have more immediate concerns than the environment. With the UK also beginning to feel the economic crunch, we see some signs of the mentality there beginning to shift."
The research also indicated that two out of three Americans think the environment is in worse shape than it was five years ago, and that lower income consumers have greater concern for the direction of the environment than wealthier consumers. Despite economic considerations, however, consumers are still willing to pay more for green products.
Consumers in both countries identify themselves as having the biggest impact on the environment. Americans list industry as having had the poorest record of environmental protection, while in the UK, government received the most blame.
Additional lead findings indicate that despite the abundance of 'green' marketing in the last 12 months, consumers still view baseline activities, such as recycling, to be the most powerful contribution to environmental improvement.
"The results of the 2008 survey suggest that, despite conversations about eco-overload, sustainability is in a nascent stage, especially in the minds of consumers, said Annie Longsworth, president of Cohn & Wolfe San Francisco. "It will take a unified effort, and excellent communication, among government, corporations, NGOs and consumers to ensure environmental concerns remain at the top of the agenda."
|Top green brands on both sides of the Atlantic|
|1. Whole Foods||1. Body Shop|
|2. Burt's Bees||2. Marks & Spencer|
|3. Trader Joe's||3. Waitrose|
|4. Tom's of Maine||4= Tesco and Sainsbury's|
|5. Toyota||5. Asda|
|6. Seventh Generation||6= Dove and Google|
|7= Honda and GE||7. Co-Operative Bank|
|8. Whirlpool||8. E.ON|
|9. Aveda||9. Morrisons|
|10. Method||10= Nivea and Toyota|
In keeping with the 2007 ImagePower®
findings, US consumers believe Body Care and Grocery to be the 'greenest' product categories, while Travel and Energy remain at the bottom of the list. One of the most significant differences between the 2008 and 2007 findings is the shift in thinking about the most pressing environmental concerns. In 2007, most consumers were concerned about global warming, and this year's survey shows that energy and resource issues have increased in importance.
In order to gauge which brands are communicating their green initiatives or values most effectively, the survey asked participants in each country to rank their greenest brands, respectively. The results provide a mix of brands across categories; in the US, personal care products make up most of the top 10, while in the UK. supermarkets do the same.
Source: The WIRE (Jul, 2008) - Issue 29, p13