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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Sept/Oct 2002 : Timelines


Consumer Concerns
Roper's Green Gauge Report shows that Americans are adopting environmentally sound habits.

This year, the color palette that’s “in” is one of soothing, gentle tones that designers and consumers alike will find appealing. Throughout the retail landscape, however, shoppers have made it clear that their fondness for “green”—environmentally friendly products—will not change with the latest styles. Americans have grown increasingly concerned about environmental issues, and many demonstrate this sensitivity in their market behavior.

* Environmental Fears
RoperASW’s Green Gauge Report reveals that worries about pollution have hit a new high, concerns about loss of open space from development have escalated and an aversion to bio-engineered foods is on the rise. A desire to preserve wildlife and natural resources is the growing motivation for environmental protection.

But the top reason Americans cite for taking care of the environment is to protect human health. Americans believe that pollution poses serious threats to their well-being, and 78 percent feel that people in this country are at increased risk for disease due to poor environmental conditions.

While half of all Americans admit that they still “don’t get around to making the changes in my lifestyle I know I should,” many try to practice environmentally sound habits on a regular basis. Sixty-five percent try to save electricity at home, 51 percent return bottles or cans, 48 percent recycle newspapers, and 26 percent buy products made from or packaged in recycled materials.

According to a Roper Reports 2002 Worldwide Study of teens and adults in 30 countries, nearly four in 10 consumers globally say that preserving the environment is very or extremely important as a guiding principle in their lives. Nations where this value is highest include Egypt (58 percent), Germany (58 percent), Argentina (50 percent), Philippines (49 percent) and India (48 percent).

Additionally, one quarter of consumers globally say that “being in tune with nature” is very or extremely important as a personal value. This is particularly significant in Egypt (41 percent), Argentina (40 percent), Venezuela (40 percent), Philippines (39 percent), Taiwan (34 percent) and Germany (34 percent).

The study also found environmental pollution is a major concern on the worldwide agenda. For nearly a quarter of consumers (23 percent) in 31 countries, it is one of the top three issues they are concerned about today. It is of particular national concern in China, Korea, Japan, Italy and Hungary.

“Not only is concern for the environment a universal social issue, but 38 percent of consumers say it is very important in their purchase decision-making that brands and companies make efforts to address social causes such as environmental protection,” said Xiaoyan Zhao, senior vice president with Roper Reports Worldwide. “The environment is most frequently cited by global consumers as the issue they would like to see companies address.”

The findings are based on surveys of 30,000 consumers (ages 13 to 65 in 30 countries) conducted in November and December of 2001.

* Promoting “Green”

This mindset is an invitation to manufacturers and retailers to gain favor with consumers by promoting their environmental responsibility on labels, at retail and through new product development. It encourages marketers to create displays and point-of-purchase elements that highlight environmentally friendly wares, energy-efficient appliances and “green” goods, in general.

Labels and displays can play an important role in making an environmental statement about your brand. More than half of all Americans say they have purchased a product because the advertising or label indicated that it was environmentally safe or biodegradable; 27 percent say product packaging is a major source of information about environmental action.

* Eco-Friendly Versus High Quality
Though shoppers’ purchases are motivated by environmental factors, they are also reluctant to compromise on quality, convenience, reliability or aesthetic appeal when it comes to environmentally safer products. In fact, 41 percent of consumers say they don’t buy green products because they fear the eco-friendly versions won’t be up to par. Marketers can address these concerns by using in-store demonstrations, by offering free samples or discounted trial sizes, or by making knowledgeable salespeople available.

Americans don’t always behave as green as they think they do. Convenience remains one of the most powerful drivers of consumer behavior in this country, so make it easy for consumers to recognize green products and experience the product quality—they will both contribute to the success of your eco-marketing.





RoperASW is a full-service market research consultancy with offices in the U.S., Europe and the Asia Pacific region. For more information, call 212-599-0700 or visit This article is reprinted with permission of Point of Purchase magazine, © 2002, VNU Business Media, Inc.

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