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As Eco-Buzz Grows, National Survey Warns Companies of 'Green Trap'

Submitted by: BBMG

Categories: Research, Reports & Publications, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Nov 06, 2007 – 11:00 AM EST

 

Increasingly Values-Driven Consumers are Changing the Rules of Marketing

NEW YORK, NY - November 6, 2007 - America's consumers offer a warning to business leaders and marketers looking to ride the green wave: either back your eco-friendly words with socially responsible actions or risk a backlash. In the first major study to combine field observations with a national survey on purchasing behavior and social values, increasingly conscious consumers are demanding that companies be transparent about their practices and accountable for their impact on people and the planet.

According to the inaugural BBMG Conscious Consumer Report, nearly nine in ten Americans say the words "conscious consumer" describe them well and are more likely to buy from companies that manufacture energy efficient products (90%), promote health and safety benefits (88%), support fair labor and trade practices (87%), and commit to environmentallyfriendly practices (87%), if products are of equal quality and price.

Conducted by branding and marketing agency BBMG, in conjunction with research partners Global Strategy Group and Bagatto, the report combines ethnographic research in three U.S. markets with a national survey of 2,007 adults to reveal how companies can reach, inspire and motivate today's savvy and values-driven consumers.

"In a world of green clutter, conscious consumers expect companies to do more than make eco-friendly claims. They demand transparency and accountability across every level of business practice. Avoiding the green trap means authentically backing your words with socially responsible actions," says Raphael Bemporad, founding partner of BBMG.

Findings From BBMG Conscious Consumer Report

  • Personal Issues Are Most Important. Consumers' most important issues are the ones that affect their health and wellness most directly, such as safe drinking water (90%), clean air (86%) and finding cures for diseases like cancer, AIDS and Alzheimers (84%). By comparison, only 63% describe global warming as the most or a very important issue.

  • Greater Than Green. Americans readily self-identify as "conscious consumers" (88% well, 37% very well), "socially responsible" (88% well, 39% very well) and "environmentally-friendly" (86% well, 34% very well). By contrast, fewer respondents self-identify as "green" (65% well, 18% very well), which is viewed as more exclusive.

  • Beyond Convenience. While price (58% very important) and quality (66% very important) are paramount, convenience (34% very important) has been edged out by more socially relevant attributes: where a product is made (44% very important), how energy efficient it is (41% very important) and its health benefits (36% very important) are all integral to consumers’ purchasing decisions.

  • Most Socially Responsible Companies? Whole Foods Market (22%) tops the list of the survey’s most socially responsible companies, followed by Newman's Own (19%), Wal-Mart (18%), Burt's Bees (17%) and General Electric, Johnson & Johnson and Ben & Jerry’s (all 16%).

    "Americans think before they buy. Our poll reveals that many consumers are evaluating the social and economic impact of their purchases on the world in which they live. They tend to prefer to buy from companies that reflect their values and are increasingly likely to buy from companies that demonstrate they are good for people and the planet," said Jeffrey Pollock, president of Global Strategy Group.

    Ethnography Reveals Five Values That Drive Conscious Consumers

    The BBMG Conscious Consumer Report combines national survey data with in-depth ethnographies of self-identified conscious consumers in three U.S. markets. From seeking natural, unmodified products to buying locally to rewarding companies that demonstrate socially responsible practices, the ethnography reveals five core values that drive the conscious consumer: health and safety, honesty, convenience, relationships and doing good.

    "Americans are increasingly guided by a series of core values that directly shape their purchasing behavior," said David Lubensky, founder of Bagatto. "While consumers continue to prioritize personal and practical concerns like health, safety, price and quality, they are also looking to make a difference in the world."

    For the ethnography, Bagatto conducted extensive observations and interviews with 24 single males, single females, married couples with no children, married couples with children and empty nesters in Lawrence, KS; Long Island, NY; and around Livermore, CA in August 2007. Global Strategy Group conducted the national online survey of 2,007 adults between September 11-17, 2007. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 percentage points.

    About BBMG: Based in New York City and San Francisco, BBMG is a branding and integrated marketing agency dedicated to helping socially-minded organizations harness the laws of branding to stand out, build relationships, win loyalty and inspire action. www.bbmg.com

    About Global Strategy Group: Global Strategy Group is a leading strategic research firm specializing in identifying the underlying factors that impact consumer and voter attitudes and behavior. www.globalstrategygroup.com

    About Bagatto: Bagatto is a Customer Insights Consultancy specializing in customer focused business, product, and service design research and strategy. www.bagatto.net

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