Consumers Optimistic About the Environment Despite Economic Concerns

2009 ImagePower® Green Brands Survey Indicates Green Can be a Competitive Advantage in Challenging Economy
Jul 28, 2009 7:07 PM ET
Press Release

NEW YORK (July 28, 2009) – A newly released study reveals an increase in US consumer optimism about the state of the environment, as well as an appetite for green products and information. The research shows that 42 percent of Americans believe the environment is headed in the right direction, a 14 percent rise since 2008.

The ImagePower Green Brands survey, conducted by WPP agencies (NASDAQ: WPPGY) Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB) as well as independent strategy consulting firm Esty Environmental Partners, also identifies areas of opportunity for brands interested in “going green.”
Three out of four Americans say that it is somewhat or very important that the brands they purchase are green. And while three out of five people believe that green products cost more than non-green products, 76 percent say they will spend the same or more on green products in the next year.
“Consumers’ commitment to green is holding strong during the recession, despite widespread belief that such products cost more,” said Scott Siff, EVP of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. “Companies that can demonstrate the economic benefits of green products to consumers, linking values to value, have a real opportunity.”
Certification marks are the most important indicator for consumers as to whether a product is green, with 45 percent of the people survey saying they look for a specific mark on products. Further, 83 percent of Americans believe that labels telling them where their food comes from is somewhat or very important, and 79 percent want green labels that are easier to understand.
Additional findings indicate that consumers believe reducing the amount of toxins or other dangerous substances in products and business process is the most important sign of being a green company.
“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.”
This year’s survey indicates that Household Cleaning is the perceived to be the greenest industry; it ranked fourth in the 2008 findings. Personal Care is the second greenest product category and Retail/Department Stores ranked last.
The top ten greenest brands in the US, as perceived by local consumers are:
1.    Clorox (Greenworks)
2.    Burt’s Bees
3.    Tom’s of Maine
4.    S.C. Johnson
5.    Toyota
6.    P&G
7.    Walmart
8.    Ikea
9.    Walt Disney
10. Dove
"This year's findings reinforce consumers' desires to be green by using products that are green," said Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer of Landor Associates. "However, we're also beginning to see a strong positive correlation between greenness and more traditional brand attributes like honesty and trustworthiness. This creates an incentive for global brands faced with the challenge of expanding the reach of pre-existing products while introducing green ones, as the presence of one attribute can have a halo effect on others."
The survey also explored the communication aspects of green, finding that television and the Internet are the primary sources of information for environmental issues in the US. But consumers are divided on the factors that most influence their purchase decisions: recommendations from friends are most effective for US consumers, and intellectuals (professors, authors) or activists are viewed as the most credible spokespeople for environmental change.
“The increasing sophistication of the American consumer towards green issues is a good sign for companies with a strong story to tell. But be mindful: as consumer demand for information and knowledge on green increases, brands also need to become more sophisticated about how they communicate their company and products,” said Annie Longsworth, sustainability practice leader for Cohn & Wolfe. “Transparency is critical, as are credible spokespeople and authenticity, which can be demonstrated through product labeling and ingredient disclosure, among other strategies.”
The ImagePower Green Brands study was conducted online with US consumers 18+ in between May 4-6, 2009. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. Complete results are available upon request by contacting Dain Percifield at (415) 365-8548.
About Landor Associates
Landor Associates is one of the world’s leading strategic brand consulting and design firms. Founded by Walter Landor in 1941, Landor pioneered many of the research, design, and consulting methods that are now standard in the branding industry. Partnering with clients, Landor drives business transformation and performance by creating brands that are more innovative, progressive, and dynamic than their competitors.
Landor’s holistic approach to branding is a balance of rigorous, business-driven thinking and exceptional creativity. Its work spans the full breadth of branding services, including brand research and valuation, brand positioning and architecture, naming and writing, corporate identity and consumer packaging design, branded experience, brand equity management, brand engagement, and digital branding.
With 23 offices in 18 countries, Landor’s current and past clients include some of the world’s most powerful brands, including BlackBerry, Citi, the Council on Foreign Relations, Diageo, Hilton Hotels, Hewlett-Packard, Jet Airways, Microsoft, MillerCoors, Panasonic, the PGA of America, Procter & Gamble, Taj Hotels  Resorts and Palaces, and Verizon.
Landor is part of WPP, one of the world’s largest global communications services companies.
About Cohn & Wolfe
Cohn & Wolfe is a strategic public relations agency dedicated to creating, building and protecting the world’s most prolific brands. With offices around the world, the agency is committed to breaking new ground in the delivery of cross-channel media strategies, creative programming, and practice area excellence. 
Cohn & Wolfe is recognized year after year by clients and the industry for excellence in creativity, client service, digital communications, media strategy, senior management and strategic counsel. Cohn & Wolfe also consistently ranks among the top “Best Agencies to Work For” in an annual, industry-wide employee survey. For more information, visit: Cohn & Wolfe is part of WPP (Nasdaq: WPPGY), one of the world's largest communications services group.
About Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates
Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, a unit of the WPP group (NASDAQ = WPPGY) is a global research-based consultancy that specializes in messaging and communications strategy for blue-chip political, corporate and entertainment clients. We have over 30 years of experience in leveraging unique insights about consumer opinion to provide clients with a competitive advantage - what we call Winning Knowledge™. PSB executes polling and message testing services for Fortune 100 corporations and has helped elect more than 30 presidents and prime ministers around the world. More information is available at
About Esty Environmental Partners
Esty Environmental Partners (EEP) is a management consultancy working with corporate clients to build high-impact environmental strategies that create sustainable business value. EEP serves a range of companies,  from  Fortune 500 to small business,  in diverse industries including apparel, financial services, industrial, and consumer packaged goods.  EEP clients are executives whose responsibilities include corporate environmental affairs and sustainability, product line management, facilities management, and the highest levels of company or division general management. They engage EEP’s team of experienced environmental and business professionals to help them build core capabilities, innovate, and differentiate their companies through environmental strategy.  To learn more, please visit