Study: Consumers Lack Trust in Green Claims

by | Apr 3, 2009

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bbmgreportNearly one in four U.S. consumers say they have “no way of knowing” if a product is green or actually does what it claims, according to a new study from branding and marketing agency BBMG in New York. The agency says this signals a lack of confidence in green marketing and a widespread green trust gap.

The BBMG Conscious Consumer Report: “Redefining Value in a New Economy,” conducted in conjunction with research partners Global Strategy Group and Bagatto, also 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.

Where do consumers turn to for verification? Nearly 30 percent of respondents turn to consumer reports, followed by 28 percent who look for certification seals or labels and 27 percent who read the list of ingredients on products. Consumers are least likely to look to statements on product packaging (11 percent) and company advertising (5 percent), according to the study.

Other key findings indicate that consumers are interested in buying green despite a tough economy with nearly seven in ten reporting that it is important to purchase products with social and environmental benefits. More than half are willing to pay more for green products. Respondents recognized Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, GE and Whole Foods as the most socially responsible companies, while they saw Exxon Mobile, GM, Food, Shell, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart as the least responsible companies.

Another finding reveals that consumers will reward or punish companies based on their corporate practices. Seven in ten consumers (71 percent) agree that they “avoid purchasing from companies whose practices they disagree with”; and approximately half tell others to shop (55 percent) or drop (48 percent) products based on a company’s social and environmental practices.

A recent consumer study on green packaging indicates that packaging is a tiebreaker for most shoppers when they decide which product to buy, and only influence consumer purchase decisions if quality appearance and functional needs are met.

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