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BBMG Study Finds 'Green Trust Gap'

BBMG Study Finds 'Green Trust Gap'

Published 03-24-09

Submitted by BBMG

NEW YORK - March 24, 2009 - Nearly one in four U.S. consumers (23%) say they have "no way of knowing" if a product is green or actually does what it claims, signaling a lack of confidence in green marketing and revealing a widespread "green trust gap," according to the BBMG Conscious Consumer Report: Redefining Value in a New Economy, the second national study on purchasing behavior and social values by branding and marketing agency BBMG.

Consumers' lack of trust does not mean lack of interest. The BBMG report 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. Consumers are most likely to turn to consumer reports (29%), certification seals or labels on products (28%) and the list of ingredients on products (27%) to determine if a product is green and does what it claims. Consumers are least likely to look to statements on product packaging (11%) and company advertising (5%), signaling deep skepticism of company-driven marketing.

"The economic crisis has created a moment of reflection where consumers are redefining what truly matters and evaluating purchases based on both value and values," said Raphael Bemporad, co-founder of BBMG, an agency working at the intersection of branding, sustainability and innovation. "This is a moment for leadership. By delivering on the multiple dimensions of value - price, performance and purpose - brands will be able to close the green trust gap, weather the economic storm and thrive in the sustainable economy of the future."

Findings from the BBMG Conscious Consumer Report (2009):

  • Interest in Green Holds Despite Tough Economy. Nearly seven in ten Americans agree (67%) that "even in tough economic times, it is important to purchase products with social and environmental benefits," and half (51%) say they are "willing to pay more" for them.

  • Price and Performance Still Paramount, But Green Gains Ground. Price (66% very important) and quality (64%) top consumers' list of most important product attributes, followed by good for your health (55%) and made in the USA (49%). But green benefits have increased in importance since last year - including energy efficiency (47% very important in 2008, 41% in 2007), locally grown or made nearby (32% in 2008, 26% in 2007), all natural (31% in 2008, 24% in 2007), made from recycled materials (29% in 2008, 22% in 2007) and USDA organic (22% in 2008, 17% in 2007).

  • Wal-Mart Tops List of Most and Least Socially Responsible Companies. When asked unaided which companies come to mind as the most socially or environmentally responsible companies, 7 percent of Americans named Wal-Mart, followed by Johnson & Johnson (6%), Procter & Gamble (4%), GE (4%) and Whole Foods (3%). Wal-Mart also topped the list of the least responsible companies (9%), along with Exxon Mobile (9%), GM (3%) and Ford (3%), Shell (2%) and McDonald's (2%). Interestingly, 41% of Americans could not name a single company that they consider the most socially and environmentally responsible.

  • Consumers Reward, Punish and Influence Based on Corporate Practices. Seven in ten consumers (71%) agree that they "avoid purchasing from companies whose practices they disagree with"; and approximately half tell others to shop (55%) or drop (48%) products based on a company's social and environmental practices.
"At a time of radical transparency and a growing demand for accountability, consumers are rewarding brands that align with their values, punishing those that don't—and spreading the word with their family, friends and peers," said Mitch Baranowski, co-founder of BBMG. "Brands can close the trust gap by telling authentic stories and empowering a consumer tribe to share ideas, experiences and influence."

The BBMG Conscious Consumer Report explores the attitudes, preferences, values and experiences that shape consumer purchasing behavior, brand loyalty and peer-to-peer influence. Conducted by BBMG, in conjunction with research partners Global Strategy Group and Bagatto, the report combines ethnographic research in two U.S. markets (conducted in January and February 2009) with a national survey of 2,000 adults (conducted October 26 - November 6, 2008). The survey margin of error is +/- 2.2 percentage points.

About BBMG: With offices in New York City and San Francisco, BBMG is a nationally-recognized firm dedicated to creating innovative brands that reach, engage and inspire today's increasingly conscious consumers. Clients include ShoreBank, Clif Bar, ONE Drinks, Ceres, Green America, Social Venture Network, among others.

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.

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

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BBMG is a brand and social innovation consultancy dedicated to creating business growth and positive social impact. We’re strategic creatives and creative strategists, culture experts and design thinkers. We build brands with purpose that are relevant to a new generation and resilient for the fast, transparent and volatile world we live in today. To learn more about how we build brands for humans, visit

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