Shoppers Feeling More Positive Toward Green Purchases, Corporations

Shoppers Feeling More Positive Toward Green Purchases, Corporations

The first quarter of the new decade showed modest growth in the green economy, according to the latest quarterly update from the Green Confidence Index, the result in part of better information for some products, particularly energy-saving products.

The Index, which is derived from a monthly online survey of approximately 2,500 Americans aged 18 and over, now registers 104.5, representing a near 5 percent gain since its inception 9 months ago. The Index measures Americans' attitudes towards and confidence in how leaders and institutions are perceived to be addressing environmental issues, the adequacy of information available to them to make informed decisions, and their past and future purchases of green products.

The Index's three components include:

• Responsibility: Who's "doing enough" -- and who's not?
• Information: Is enough information available and for what types of decisions?
• Purchasing: Is green purchasing continuing, accelerating or declining?

While the upward trend has been evident in each of the Index components, gains have been uneven across demographic subgroups, with age and income most directly related to changes.

For example, nine months ago, younger adults (18-34 years) were more skeptical than their older counterparts about the extent to which the federal or state governments were adequately addressing environmental issues. Now, it is the younger who are most confident about the federal government's role, with 27 percent saying it is doing "enough," up from 24 percent last July, with no comparable gains among their elders.

"The jury is still out on whether the harsher assessment by younger adults about their own green commitments and contributions comes from higher standards and expectations for themselves, or from fewer actions actually being taken, or some combination of both of these," says Wendy Cobrda, president of Earthsense, whose company creates the Index. "But income is clearly a factor. It's the higher-income folks, especially those making more than $100K, who've progressed the most in feeling they are taking the responsibility they should."

The quarterly update published today also measured Americans' opinions on what sources of information they use and trust to obtain information on environmental issues and purchases.

Word of mouth leads as the way 50 percent of Americans learn about green products and services. Online search engines and television are also popular channels for learning about green.

{related_content}To determine trustworthiness, Earthsense calculated a new metric, the Use/Trust Ratio, that compares the percentage of people who trust a source relative to the people who use it. Social media is on top -- it's seen as a highly credible source of environmental information of interest to Americans.

The survey also assessed the extent to which people associate companies with green practices or products by asking, top of mind, what green companies they could name.

The results are consistent, with only one in three (36 percent) able to identify a company by name. In Q1 2010, Walmart, Clorox, and Johnson & Johnson led the list of the Top 20 Green Companies, followed by General Electric, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Seventh Generation, Toyota, and Whole Foods.

"All is not equal among the three leaders," points out John Davies, vice president of GreenBiz Intelligence, a partner in the Green Confidence Index. "While Walmart and Clorox still have slightly higher numbers than J&J, they have exhibited slight decreases each quarter, whereas Johnson & Johnson has grown steadily in recognition quarter over quarter."

The Green Confidence Index is a partnership of three leading business information services companies: GreenBiz.com, part of Greener World Media, which also produces research reports and events on the greening of mainstream business; Earthsense, an applied marketing company that produces Eco-Insights, the largest syndicated survey of U.S. consumers' attitudes and behaviors toward the environment and sustainability; and Survey Sampling International, the world's largest provider of multi-mode survey research sampling solutions.

The Index is a subscription-based service. Annual subscriptions are $499, with charter subscriptions available at $299.

More information and a sample copy of the monthly briefing can be downloaded at www.greenconfidenceindex.com.

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