Economic issues more important than environment for US consumers

MONTEREY, CA: The economy, rather than the environment, continues to be the top concern for US consumers, according to the 2010 Image Power Green Brands Survey.

MONTEREY, CA: The economy, rather than the environment, continues to be the top concern for US consumers, according to the 2010 Image Power Green Brands Survey.

The survey, which polled 1,200 people in the US (more than 9,000 in eight countries), showed that 79% of US consumers are more concerned about the economy than the environment. The study also showed that the percentage of US consumers planning to spend more on green products in the coming year was 35%, down by 4% on the previous year.

The study was conducted by WPP agencies Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates, and Penn Schoen Berland, as well as independent strategy consulting firm Esty Environmental Partners.

“These results are a call to action for communicators to focus the PR message on the overall value behind choosing green products,” said Annie Longsworth, global sustainability practice leader at Cohn & Wolfe. “Communicators need to move away from the message that green products represent a price premium and instead concentrate on the multiple advantages such as the health benefits and the waste saved. Ultimately the economy and environment are tied together and by US consumers increasing spend on green products they are benefiting the overall economy.”

The survey also showed that although cost remains an issue, the majority of consumers, more than 60%, want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. Longsworth believes this represents the need for companies to not only develop their environmental practices, but also to be open to interacting with consumers.

“Communicators need to demonstrate that sustainability is on a firm's agenda," she said. "Sustainable practices and transparency need to be embedded across all areas of a company, and while many clients recognize this, there is still a cultural shift that needs to take place.”

The survey listed the top 10 US brands perceived to be the greenest, with Burt's Bees and Whole Foods coming in first and second, respectively. This year's top 10 also included newcomers Aveeno and Microsoft.

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