In the release of its latest 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker, a record-high 71 percent of Americans consider the environment when they shop, up from 66 percent in 2008*. However, Americans continue to struggle with their role in the life-cycle of products with an environmental benefit.
90% said they believe it’s their responsibility to properly use and dispose of these products, but action isn’t aligning with intent:
• Only 30% say they often use products in a way that achieves the intended environmental benefit
• 42% say they dispose of products in a way that fulfills the intended environmental benefit
• 45% of consumers actively seek out environmental information about the products they buy.
Despite the lack of consistent follow-through, consumers are showing an inclination to learn more.
• 71% of Americans report they regularly read and follow instructions on how to properly use or dispose (66%) of a product.
• 41% said they perform additional research to determine how best to utilize and discard a product for maximum benefit.
Responsible Brands Communicate and Facilitate Change
In a statement, Liz Gorman, Cone Communications’ senior vice president of Sustainable Business Practices said “Consumers are ready to follow through on the intended use or disposal of environmentally preferred products, but they need companies’ help. This is the next evolution of environmental marketing. Clear and candid communication can ensure consumers understand the important role they play in minimizing the impacts associated with the product’s lifecycle. The new green gap is about consumers only taking the idea of responsibility so far, despite feeling responsible for proper use and disposal. They’re buying with the environment in mind, but they rely on companies to provide access and education to truly ‘close the loop.”
Consumer understanding of environmental messages also presents an obstacle.
Although more than 60 percent of respondents say they understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising, the majority continue to erroneously believe common expressions such as “green” or “environmentally friendly” mean a product has a positive (40%) or neutral (22%) impact on the environment. Fewer were able to correctly identify these terms as meaning the product has a lighter impact than other similar products (22%) or less than it used to (2%). Despite the attention given to product development and environmental marketing, consumer misunderstanding of “green” claims has remained flat at around 60 percent since 2008.
• 71% of consumers wish companies would do a better job helping them understand environmental terms. Although they feel overwhelmed by the volume of messages in the marketplace, consumers prioritize authenticity over perfection and will punish companies if they feel misled:
• 48% percent say they are overwhelmed by environmental messages
• 69% say it’s okay if a company is not environmentally perfect as long as it is honest
• 78% say they will boycott a product if they discover an environmental claim to be misleading
Abridged from a report on the research in a statement from Cone Communications. Read the full press release here.