The 2011 ImagePower® Green Brands Survey was our largest such study to date, capturing the perspectives of more than 9,000 consumers in eight countries. We again saw a split between responses in the "developed countries" (Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and those in the "developing countries" (Brazil, China, and India), but the details proved enlightening.
Green Brands 2011: Price, packaging, and perception
By Mindy Romero, Landor
Now that their drought has ended, do Australians still view water conservation as the biggest green issue, as they did last year? Which green products will the Chinese be buying this year? And which brands are perceived as greenest around the world?
We uncovered several global trends affecting consumer behavior:
Growing concern over energy consumption
- Growing concern over energy consumption
- Emphasis on basic brand attributes
- Increased desire to buy green
- Interest in big-ticket green products
- Attention to packaging
In most countries, concern about the state of the economy fell, while concern about the state of the environment grew. (Germany, which reported a 29 percent decrease in concern over the economy, was the most optimistic country in this regard.)
Respondents in China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States pointed to energy use as the biggest green issue today. In previous years, climate change and pollution were identified as the largest issues, and still present the greatest challenge in Australia and India. In Brazil, deforestation remains the principal green concern. Emphasis on basic brand attributes
Consistent with previous years, the majority of respondents across all countries say it is important to buy from companies that are environmentally friendly.
But when asked which attributes are most important for a company, they listed more basic concerns before environmentally conscious and green.
Good value and reliability ranked first and second in importance with consumers in Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Brazilians value reliability and high quality above all, followed by caring about customers. The Chinese rated responsibility and trustworthiness as most important. In India, caring about customers took first place, followed by reliability and trustworthiness. These responses clearly indicate that companies should not sacrifice brand basics for greenness, but maintain a balance of desirable brand attributes. Increased desire to buy green
Overall, consumers are less likely to cite hurdles to buying green compared to last year. A majority of respondents in Brazil, China, and India say they intend to spend more on green products and brands, but are hampered by limited selection and availability. Chinese consumers experience an additional barrier: confusing or untrustworthy labeling. Demand for green continues to grow in these developing markets, with consumers willing to pay up to 10 percent more for products that are environmentally friendly.
In developed countries, price is named as the greatest barrier to purchasing green. Most consumers here believe that green products and brands are more expensive than their nongreen counterparts, and more than a third are unwilling to pay higher prices for green. More consumers are willing to spend the same on green in the next year, but those willing to spend more are decreasing. Interest in big-ticket green products
When people do buy green, what are they buying?
Respondents indicated they're most likely to purchase green products in the household, grocery, personal care, and packaged food and beverage categories. This is in line with the ongoing interest worldwide in purchasing green for products that are "in me and on me," but the categories poised for growth paint a new picture. Consumers in all markets intend to go green on more big-ticket items during the next year.
Brazil, China, and India show the biggest potential for increased sales of environmentally friendly automobiles. Consumers in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States say they plan to buy green technology brands. And Germany was the only country to name energy use as its most important green issue over the next year. In Australia, the auto, technology, and energy categories are tied in their potential for growth. Attention to packaging
Consumers in Australia, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States all cited packaging as their primary source of information on green brands and a major factor in determining what they will purchase. In China, France, and Germany, consumers rely on certification marks to help them decide whether a product is green.
Respondents worldwide agreed that companies use too much packaging for their products. In all countries except the United States, consumers seek out products with less packaging to reduce waste. Recyclability is considered the most important aspect of green packaging in Australia, Brazil, France, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Germans feel strongly that companies should use less packaging to begin with, while the Chinese favor packaging made from biodegradable materials. In summary
The 2011 ImagePower Green Brands Survey tells us that greenness remains a major issue for consumers around the world, and that they expect green practices from the companies they do business with. Whether you're a brand manager in Melbourne or an operations director in Bangalore, this study has valuable insights to offer. About the author
Mindy Romero is director of public relations for Landor Associates, responsible for leveraging the firm's spokespeople, client work, and experience across industries and practices to elevate Landor's profile with its publics.
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