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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Consumers Think Green Products Cost More

The 2009 Green Brands Survey involved consumers in seven countries: the U.S. U.K., China, Brazil, India, Germany, and France). The survey, released in July, revealed that consumers from all seven countries think green products are costlier than non-green ones, but they plan to spend more on green products in the next year. The research, conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB) with Landor Associates and Cohn & Wolfe, plus Esty Environmental Partners, showed that consumers in the U.K., France, and Brazil think their country is “on the wrong track” concerning the environment. However, consumers in the U.S., Germany, China, and India think their country is “going in the right direction.”

The survey highlighted the differences between consumers in developed and developing countries, as the following two examples show:

  • Consumers in the U.S. U.K., Germany, and France share similar environmental beliefs and behaviors, while consumers in Brazil, India, and China have different views from the consumers in Western countries.
  • The majority of consumers in India and Brazil are more concerned about the environment than the economy, but the majority of consumers in the U.S. are more concerned about the economy.

“With the global climate change discussion focused on what the major new economic powerhouses like China, India, and Brazil are willing to do to control their emissions, those three countries stood out in our polling as more interested in buying from environmentally friendly companies and more willing to spend more on green products,” said Scott Siff, executive vice president of PSB. “From a political perspective, this turns the assumptions about those countries on their heads, and from a business perspective it says the market for green branding and green products may be even bigger than generally thought.”

Over two-thirds of consumers in all countries (77 percent) think it is important that companies be "green." India and China have the highest percentage of consumers who value a companies "green-ness" with 87 percent in India and 98 percent in China. Consumers from all countries think reducing the amount of toxic or dangerous substances in its products and business processes is the most important step a company can take to demonstrate it is green.

“While reducing toxics heads the list of consumer priorities the data also show that the public holds companies accountable for good environmental behavior across the board,” said Dan Esty, chairman of Esty Environmental Partners. “Consumers expect companies to recycle, use energy efficiently, reduce packaging, and pursue green innovation. So to gain loyalty, a company’s environmental strategy must be comprehensive.”

The television and internet are the main sources of information about environmental issues in all countries. Past experiences with products influence consumers the most in France, Germany, and India. Recommendations from friends are most influential for consumers in the U.S. and China. Consumers in the U.K. and Brazil are influenced the most by editorial. Consumers in all countries think intellectuals or activists are the most credible spokespeople for environmental change.

The survey asked participants to rate a number of brands, and the results produced the top ten greenest companies list for each country. The top ten greenest companies list for the U.S. is as follows:

  1. Clorox Clean Works
  2. Burt’s Bees
  3. Tom’s of Maine
  4. S.C. Johnson & Son
  5. Toyota
  6. P&G
  7. Wal-Mart
  8. Ikea
  9. Disney
  10. Dove


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