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.

http://www.conecomm.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/0/a70891b83b6f1056074156e8b4646f42/files/2013_cone_communications_green_gap_trend_tracker_press_release_and_fact_sheet.pdf

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Oxfam: How The Top Ten Food Companies Rank As Responsible Brands.

28 02 2013

“The social and environmental policies of the world’s ten biggest food and beverage giants are not fit for modern purpose and need a major shake-up.”

– Oxfam Statement

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 2.12.36 PM

Oxfam released results today ranking the world’s Top Ten food and beverage companies on responsible brand behaviors – evaluating their performance on key measures such as land and water use, response to climate change, treatment of workers, farmers and women, and transparency.

According to the Oxfam report – Behind The Brands – “all of the big ten companies have acknowledged the need for a more just food system and have made commitments to that end.  But the Behind the Brands scorecard shows these very same companies are currently failing to take the necessary steps in their policies to ensure the well-being of those working to produce their products.  Instead they continue to profit from a broken system they should be helping to fix.”

Among several areas the Behind The Brands study identifies as serious improvement:

  • None of the big ten companies have policies to protect local communities from land and water grabs along their supply chains.
  • Companies are not taking significant steps to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climate change affect their supplier farmers.
  • Most do not provide small-scale farmers with equal access to their supply changes or ensure they are receiving a fair price for their goods
  • Companies are overly secretive about their agricultural supply chains, making it difficult to verify and monitor sustainability goals and claims.
  • Only few efforts are in place to address the exploitation of female small-scale producers and farmers in their supply chains.

“None of the 10 biggest food and beverage companies are moving fast enough to turn around a 100-year legacy of relying on cheap land and labor to make mass products at huge profits, with unacceptably high social and environmental costs,” said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director for Oxfam International, in a statement. “No company emerges with a good overall score. Across the board, all 10 companies need to do much more.”





Aspirational Consumers: Balancing Style and Sustainability

5 02 2013

consumer_shopping

A new study by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility finds that a majority of consumers across six international markets are seeking to reconcile their desire for shopping and style with responsibility to the environment and society through their purchases. According to the report, Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability, nearly two-thirds of consumers globally equate shopping with happiness (63%) while also feeling a sense of responsibility for society (65%). The study draws from an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.

In exploring the intersection of consumer values, motivations and behaviors, the study identifies four consumer segments on the sustainability spectrum: highly committed Advocates (14%); style and social status-seeking Aspirationals (37%); price and performance-minded Practicals (34%) and less engaged Indifferents (16%).

Aspirationals represent hundreds of millions of consumers globally, and are the largest consumer segment in Brazil, China and India. More than any other segment, Aspirationals care about style (65%) and social status (52%), and equate shopping with happiness (70%). Yet, they are also among the most likely to believe that we need to “consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” (73%), and feel “a sense of responsibility to society” (73%).

Aspirationals are looking for brands to provide solutions that both improve their lives and serve society as a whole,” said Pam Alabaster, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs at L’Oréal USA, a sponsor of the study. “Understanding this dynamic tension provides the greatest opportunity for companies to create positive impact through consumers’ purchasing decisions and social actions.”

Aspirationals represent the persuadable mainstream on the path to more sustainable behavior. They love to shop, are influenced by brands, yet aspire to be sustainable in their purchases and actions,” said Raphael Bemporad, Co-Founder of brand and innovation consultancy BBMG. “This consumer segment represents a significant opportunity for forward-looking brands to unite consumerism with social and environmental values.”

“The ideals, influence and size of the Aspirationals segment — particularly in developing markets — is what makes them so compelling for sustainable brands,” said Mark Lee, Executive Director at think tank and strategic advisory firm SustainAbility. “But simply helping people to consume more products that are incrementally ‘better’ is not necessarily the answer. Leading companies will seek to meet the needs of the Aspirationals beyond just products by delivering value through services, sharing, expertise and purposeful engagement.”

Eric Whan, Sustainability Director at GlobeScan, added: “In our fifteen years of market analysis, we’ve never seen an opportunity like this. The Aspirationals will chart the future of sustainable consumption, as long as their favorite brands offer them what they want.”

Developed by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, The Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption. The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.





Re-Thinking Consumption: 66% of consumers agree we need to consume less to improve the environment.

29 11 2012

 

According to the newly released The Regeneration Consumer Study, two-thirds of consumers in six countries say that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” and that they feel “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society”.

In a statement, Mark Lee, Executive Director at SustainAbility said, “Our economy and natural environment are facing unprecedented stresses as scarce resources are stretched to meet growing needs.  Through the Regeneration Consumer Study, we are revealing how consumer attitudes, behaviors and collaboration can help enterprising brands as they work to innovate smarter, safer, cleaner and greener solutions.”

The findings are based on an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.

Among other key insights in the global consumer research:

  • Nine in ten consumers believe it is extremely or very important for companies to address safe drinking water.
  • 67% are interested in sharing their ideas with companies to help them develop better products or create new solutions.
  • 75% of consumers globally agree they would purchase products that are environmentally or socially responsible if they didn’t cost more.

The study also draws five key implications for marketers to connect with these consumers who are demonstrating strong desire for responsible brands.  In summary, they are:

1.  Deliver total value.

2. Connect back story to brand story

3. Embrace sustainable brand innovation.

4. Harness consumer collaboration.

5. Unleash the power of tribes.

 

Read a copy of the research report here.

 

Congratulations to the drivers behind the research and their sponsors.  Learn about the developers and their sponsors below:

Developed by BBMGGlobeScan and SustainAbilityThe Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption among 6,224 respondents across six major international markets (Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States) conducted in September and October 2012. Drawn from consumer research panels, global data are comparable to having a margin of error of +/- 1.3 percent. Analysis of country-level data reflects a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.

Presenting Sponsors of The Regeneration Roadmap are BMW Group and SC Johnson. Sponsors include Cisco, DuPont, Interface and Pfizer. The Regeneration Consumer Study is sponsored by Brown-FormanCampbell Soup CompanyItauL’OréalShell and Starbucks.

 

 

 





SIF Foundation: Sustainable and Responsible Investing Up 22%

27 11 2012

Two hands hold euro coins where a plant starts to grow

Sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) accounts for 11.23 percent of all assets under professional management in the United States at year end 2011. According to the report, $3.74 trillion out of $33.3 trillion of investment assets is held by individuals, institutions, investment companies or money managers that practice SRI strategies.

This total, an increase of 22 percent since year end 2009, reflects growing investor interest in considering environmental, community, other societal or corporate governance (ESG) issues to refine how they make decisions as they select and manage their portfolios or raise their voices as shareholders.

The new 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States, released today by the US SIF Foundation, found that the total net assets of both mutual funds and alternative investment funds that consider ESG criteria increased significantly:

Mutual Funds: $641 billion, a doubling from 2010.

Alternative Investment Funds: $132 billion, a 250 percent increase from the corresponding assets identified at year-end 2009.

The report also found sizable growth in financial institutions that have a mission of serving low and middle-income communities:

Community Development Banks: $30.1 billion, a 74 percent increase since 2010.

Credit Unions: $17.1 billion, a 54 percent increase from 2010.

Importantly, the report found a significant increase of institutional investor assets involved ESG criteria related to environmental issues since the last report published in 2010.  It now represents $636 billion, 43 percent increase from 2010. Climate change is now considered by 23 percent of institutional asset owners incorporating ESG criteria.

In a statement, Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF said, “The 2012 Trends report demonstrates that we are moving closer to a sustainable and equitable economy.  From the growth in mutual funds that consider ESG criteria and increased investment in community development banks and credit unions to increasingly large votes on shareholder proposals and the availability of sustainable investment options across asset classes, SRI strategies are on the rise in the United States. We are pleased that this report details many important and interrelated trends that indicate that sustainable and responsible investing will continue its impressive growth and impact.”

About US SIF:

The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. The 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States is a publication of the US SIF Foundation, a 501c3 organization that undertakes educational, research and programmatic activities to advance the mission of US SIF.

 





GfK Green Gauge®: Green is going mainstream, but don’t expect a premium.

24 09 2012

In their new Green Gauge research released today, GfK reports significant progress in the developing green culture in the United States, but also highlight findings that many consumers are increasingly resistant to pay more for “green products”.

In a statement, Timothy Kenyon–Director for the Green Gauge survey–said, “Green awareness is indeed pervasive – but consumers can perceive ‘green’ claims as a negative in some contexts.  For example, while terms like organic and recyclable have strong positive resonance, they are often associated with higher prices. Understanding consumers’ triggers and the limits of their commitment to green action is essential for marketers and researchers alike.”

The study shows that 73% of US consumers have purchased a product made from organic materials in the past 12 months. Categories that have seen notable increases since 2007 in organic buying include food, household cleaning, apparel, and pet food and supplies.

In addition, 93% of Americans say they have done something to conserve energy in their households in the past year, and 77% have done something to save household water during the same timeframe.

The study also reports that digital media are helping to amplify this green awareness:

29% of smartphone users have turned to an app in the past year to help reduce their environmental impact – a figure that jumps to 44% for Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) and 38% for Generation Y (ages 23 to 32).  Most-cited types of apps used include public transportation timetables and home energy monitors.

In addition, 18% of consumers say that social networking sites are a “major source” of green information for them (up four points from 2011), with another 33% citing it as a “minor source.”

GfK points out that green awareness and engagement do not necessarily translate to green purchase. Compared to 2008, the proportion of US consumers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives has gone down in a variety of key areas — from cars that are less polluting to the air (down from 62% to 49%) to energy efficient lightbulbs (down from 70% to 60%).  (examples are cited below in this infographic from the Advertising Age article linked below).

According to GFK, The Green Gauge® Report is the only nationwide, long-term syndicated study of consumer attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. Green Gauge gives marketers an exclusive look at how America’s concern for environmental issues can affect brands and organizations.

Read a related article to the research in Advertising Age here.





Vestas Survey: 85% of consumers want more renewable energy.

18 09 2012

Vestas has released this year’s Global Consumer Wind Study, surveying 24,000 consumers worldwide about their attitude toward renewable energy.  The study shows that 79% per cent of consumers prefer renewable energy, that 62% are more willing to buy products produced with renewable energy, and not least that consumers indicate a willingness to pay a premium price for such products.

Other key findings in the research include:

  • 74% would get a more positive perception of a brand if wind energy were the primary energy source used in its production.
  • 49% of respondents express willingness to pay more for products made with renewable energy.
  • 62% of respondents say they would be more willing to buy products from brands that use wind energy production.
  • 52% of consumers believe that the transparency of the energy mix used in product production is too low.
  • 45% of consumers surveyed perceive climate change as one of the top 3 challenges facing the world today.

Importantly for brand marketers, the research also studied the impact of renewable energy use on brand perceptions.  28% of people surveyed indicated they would get a “much more positive perception” of the brand if the brand used wind energy as its primary source.

According to the research report, “This year’s Global Consumer Wind Study indicates that brands need their core business to be green in order to reap the full benefits of consumers’ preferences. The research suggests that consumers have raised the threshold for being “green,” and that consumers are more likely to choose brands that integrate sustainability into their core business operations by sourcing renewable energy, and to recommend those brands to other potential purchasers.”

You can read the full summary of the Global Consumer Wind Study here.