US consumers' interest in green brands continues to rise, study says

MONTEREY, CA: Seventh Generation, Whole Foods, and Tom's of Maine topped the list of most popular green brands among US consumers this year, according to the ImagePower Global Green Brands Study, which also found that more than 60% of people want to buy from environmentally responsible companies.

MONTEREY, CA: Seventh Generation, Whole Foods, and Tom's of Maine topped the list of most popular green brands among US consumers this year, according to the annual ImagePower Global Green Brands Study, which also found that more than 60% of people worldwide want to buy from environmentally responsible companies.

Rounding out the top 10 list for the US were Burt's Bees, Trader Joe's, the Walt Disney Company, S.C. Johnson, Dove, and Apple, with Starbucks and Microsoft tied at No. 10. The top four brands — Seventh Generation, Whole Foods, Tom's of Maine, and Burt's Bees — are all considered "born green" companies, marking the first time since the study was introduced in 2006 that four born green brands have topped the list.

The seventh annual study polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries, and was conducted by WPP-owned agencies Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates, and Penn Schoen Berland Associates, as well as Esty Environmental Partners, an independent sustainability strategy consulting firm.

In addition, the study found that consumers worldwide have seen the benefits of buying green brands in the personal care, food, and household sectors, and now have an increased willingness to invest in green spending on higher-ticket categories, such as automotive, energy, and technology.

"Price will always be first consideration," said Annie Longsworth, global sustainability practice leader for Cohn & Wolfe. "People aren't willing to pay more for green--they still see it as a luxury item. The more successful brands understand that consumers are asking for more than just the environmental benefit. They want to know that it's going to have a tangible, intrinsic benefit to them. There's a need for communicators to balance out the messaging a little bit."

US and Australian respondents said the energy industry is doing the best job of protecting the environment, with energy topping the list at 18% and 20% of respondents in each nation, respectively. Meanwhile, respondents from Germany (19%), India (22%), China (33%), and Brazil (22%) say technology is the most eco-friendly field. The UK cites the grocery store industry as most eco-friendly at more than 21%.

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