New report: Green is in, but trust in green claims is tenuous

first_imgBBMG’s second annual Conscious Consumer Report is out. The national study on purchasing behavior and social values is available here. Below are highlights from the report, provided by BBMG. They sound about right to me – there is a lot of skepticism about all marketing claims these days. And this is further proof that Wal-Mart has done quite a job turning around national opinion thanks to some high-profile moves to be more socially responsible.Consumers Like Green, but Are Skeptical of Corporate Claims. Nearly one in four U.S. consumers (23%) say they have “no way of knowing” if a product is green or actually does what it claims, signaling a lack of confidence in green marketing and revealing a widespread “green trust gap.” But consumers’ lack of trust does not mean lack of interest. The BBMG report finds that 77 percent of Americans agree that they “can make a positive difference by purchasing products from socially or environmentally responsible companies,” and they are actively seeking information to verify green claims. Consumers are most likely to turn to consumer reports (29%), certification seals or labels on products (28%) and the list of ingredients on products (27%) to determine if a product is green and does what it claims. Consumers are least likely to look to statements on product packaging (11%) and company advertising (5%), signaling deep skepticism of company-driven marketing. Interest in Green Holds Despite Tough Economy. Nearly seven in ten Americans agree (67%) that “even in tough economic times, it is important to purchase products with social and environmental benefits,” and half (51%) say they are “willing to pay more” for them.Price and Performance Still Paramount, But Green Gains Ground. Price (66% very important) and quality (64%) top consumers’ list of most important product attributes, followed by good for your health (55%) and made in the USA (49%). But green benefits have increased in importance since last year – including energy efficiency (47% very important in 2008, 41% in 2007), locally grown or made nearby (32% in 2008, 26% in 2007), all natural (31% in 2008, 24% in 2007), made from recycled materials (29% in 2008, 22% in 2007) and USDA organic (22% in 2008, 17% in 2007).Wal-Mart Tops List of Most and Least Socially Responsible Companies. When asked unaided which companies come to mind as the most socially or environmentally responsible companies, 7 percent of Americans named Wal-Mart, followed by Johnson & Johnson (6%), Procter & Gamble (4%), GE (4%) and Whole Foods (3%). Wal-Mart also topped the list of the least responsible companies (9%), along with Exxon Mobile (9%), GM (3%) and Ford (3%), Shell (2%) and McDonald’s (2%). Interestingly, 41% of Americans could not name a single company that they consider the most socially and environmentally responsible.Consumers Reward, Punish and Influence Based on Corporate Practices. Seven in ten consumers (71%) agree that they “avoid purchasing from companies whose practices they disagree with”; and approximately half tell others to shop (55%) or drop (48%) products based on a company’s social and environmental practices.last_img

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