- THE MAGAZINE
Presenting the research were sustainability leaders Dr. Arthur Weissman, President/CEO, Green Seal Inc., Kevin Tuerff, Principal/President, EnviroMedia Social Marketing and Linda Chipperfield, V.P., Marketing/Outreach of Green Seal Inc.
Overall, just 3 percent of the public does not believe climate change exists. 52 percent of Americans believe climate change is caused by human activities. Twenty-nine percent believe climate change is occurring naturally, and 15 percent say climate change needs to be scientifically proven. And more than any other age group, 64 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds-an estimated audience of 76 million people- believe global warming is caused by human activities revealing a clear generation gap.
82 percent of consumers (four out of five) say they are still buying green products and services today-which sometimes cost more-even in the midst of a U.S. recession.
Half of the 1,000 people surveyed say they are buying just as many green products now as before the economic downturn, while 19 percent say they are buying more green products. Fourteen percent say they are buying fewer environmentally green products.
2009 National Green Buying Research
Other key findings in the new research conducted by telephone in a random-digit-dial sample:
Brand Reputation Matters More Than Ads
Twenty-one percent (21%) of consumers say a product's reputation is the biggest factor they weigh when making purchasing decisions followed by word of mouth (19%) and brand loyalty (15%). Just 9 percent say green advertising is their primary influencer.
More “Green Claims” Education Neededbr>
- About one in three consumers say they don't know how to tell if green product claims are true.
- One in 10 consumers blindly trusts green product claims.
- Consumers are verifying green claims by reading the packaging (24%) and turning to research (going online, reading studies; 17%).
What Consumers Say Versus Do
While 87 percent of people surveyed say they recycle, the Environmental Protection Agency reports just 33 percent of our waste is diverted from landfills.
The other things people do are look for minimally packaged goods, (60%) which is statistically tied with buying green cleaning products (58%). Buying green personal-care products came in at 31%.
"This research suggests that consumers are buying green products second only to participating in recycling,” said Arthur Weissman, Ph.D., Green Seal's President and CEO. "This increased consumer demand sends a signal to manufacturers to produce products that are truly green.”
"That should serve as a wake-up call to sellers and marketers of current and future green products and to any company in general," said Kevin Tuerff, cofounder and President of EnviroMedia. "There are 76 million consumers (18-34) who reward companies providing services and products that are less toxic, less packaged and less energy intensive."
Green Seal, an independent nonprofit product certification organization, and EnviroMedia Social Marketing released the research at the first-ever Greenwashing Forum in Portland, Oregon, February 6. The forum, hosted by the University of Oregon, was inspired by the Greenwashing Index, which was launched in January 2008 by EnviroMedia and the UO School of Journalism and Communication. Since the popular watchdog Web site was founded, consumers in 138 countries have been posting and rating ads to “out” greenwashers and showcase companies that employ sound environmental marketing efforts.
The margin of error on the 2009 National Green Buying Survey is +/- 3.2 percent. Additional survey results are available by contacting Kelli Johnson at EnviroMedia or Barbara Hodgson with Green Seal.