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New Monthly Research Is First to Measure Consumer Demand for Green Products

<p>The Green Confidence Index launched today by, Earthsense and Survey Sampling International offers a monthly snapshot of how mainstream American consumers think about green goods and the companies that make them.</p>

Studies of the green marketplace are nothing new -- it's been just over 20 years since the first such study was released -- and perhaps fittingly, the data from those studies never change: In 1989, a whopping 78 percent of shoppers said they were willing to pay a premium for green products, and surveys today find much the same results.

But a new project launched today by, Earthsense and Survey Sampling International aims to take a more realistic, and nuanced, look at how average Americans are incorporating green into their shopping decisions, and how they think government, companies, their neighbors and themselves are doing.

The Green Confidence Index (GCI) is a monthly survey of more than 2,500 adults across the country, and gauges responses in three areas:

• Responsibility: how leaders and institutions are perceived to be addressing environmental issues (weight: 40%);
• Information: the adequacy of information available to make informed decisions (20%);
• Purchasing: past and future purchases of green products (40%)

Calling the launch of the GCI the beginning of a journey, Executive Editor Joel Makower said in a press conference today, "Our month-in and month-out ability to look at questions on a consistent basis, at a statistically significant-sized audience that's representative of the U.S. public, will allow us to track not just where we've been but where we're headed."

The survey asks not just what individuals have bought and what they're planning to buy -- and how much of those will be greener goods -- but also asks for opinions on how well different groups are doing in achieving a greener country.

As shown in the figure below, individuals consistently rank themselves highly in terms of "doing enough" to address environmental issues -- around 52 percent felt that they were over the past three months. Other high-scoring groups are those that individuals have the most contact with: The company they work for scored second-highest with around 47 percent of respondents, while major companies and manufacturers consistently took the lowest score.

Figure 1, from the Green Confidence Index. Click for full-sized.

The survey asked individuals which are the greenest companies, and as an open-ended question, received a number of results. However, Walmart and Clorox scored highest overall, with Toyota, Whole Foods, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson and General Electric also scoring high points.

The aim of the GCI is to provide companies that are trying to move their green products into the mass market with insight as to how that market perceives those goods, as well as give policymakers and other organizations tools to understand what speaks to shoppers and how to incentivize green behaviors.
"The economy is really going to determine much of the opportunity available in the green marketplace," said Amy Hebard, Earthsense's Chief Research Officer, during a press conference announcing the report. "Having said that, the green marketplace has real room to grow. As consumers understand that they're well within reach, and paychecks regain their health, more than three in five who've never purchased green plan to do so."

The Green Confidence Index is a subscription-based service that will offer in-depth examinations of shoppers' green attitudes. For more information and to download the first issue for free, visit

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