Cone: Green Gap Shows Actions Don’t Align With Intent

6 04 2013

Green-Question-300x300In 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.

Click to access 2013_cone_communications_green_gap_trend_tracker_press_release_and_fact_sheet.pdf





Cone: Americans more than twice as likely to buy from companies that promote CSR progress and results.

9 11 2012

Cone Communications has released the results of its new Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker showing that 86% of consumers are more likely to trust a company that reports its corporate social responsibility results.

In a statement, Cone Communications’ Executive Vice President Craig Bida said, “Stakeholders play more powerful roles than ever in a brand’s overall success or failure and they must be consistently engaged in a company’s CSR efforts and results from the outset.  They need to feel a benefit. This mutual return will become the new table stakes for differentiating CSR efforts.”

Some of the other interesting insights from the research include:

  • 84 percent of Americans hold companies accountable for producing and communicating the results of CSR commitments by going beyond the mission to robustly communicate progress against well-defined purpose.
  • 82 percent say they are more likely to purchase a product that clearly demonstrates the results of the company’s CSR initiatives than one that does not.
  • 84 percent recognize that for a company to make societal impact, it must also realize a business return, such as increased revenue or reduced costs

Importantly, the study also underscores continued consumer confusion regarding CSR and where to find the results and reports on CSR efforts.  And documents how CSR efforts need to be communicated and more core to any company’s brand marketing efforts.

  • 63 percent say they don’t know where to find information about a company’s CSR efforts and results
  • 55 percent don’t understand the impact they are having when buying a product from a company that says it is socially responsible.
  • 40 percent say they will not purchase a company’s products or services if CSR results are not communicated

“This shift in stakeholder expectations carries significant implications for companies engaged in CSR,” says Cone Communications’ Executive Vice President Jonathan Yohannan. “Purpose is no longer enough, and successful campaigns must demonstrate return for business, brand and society. ‘Proving purpose’ is the new mantra for effective CSR.” “Companies need to build customized output and outcome measurement components and identify projected stakeholder return at the outset of campaign development, and then track progress along the critical CSR pillars of business, brand and society,” adds Yohannan. “With the stakes so high, measurement can’t be an afterthought or add-on.”

Read the press release from Cone on the research here