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Consumers Want To Go Green

November 17, 2008
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According to “Consumers, Brands and Climate Change 2008,” consumers are motivated to address climate change issues, and they believe that doing so will help the economy.

According to “Consumers, Brands and Climate Change 2008,” a new report from The Climate Group and Lippincott, consumers are motivated to address climate change issues, and they believe that doing so will help the economy.

The full text of a recent press release detailing the report’s findings is below:


Americans Believe Fighting Climate Change Will Boost Economy, According to Study from The Climate Group and Lippincott

Wall Street financial crisis has only moderate impact on desire to tackle climate change

Most people in the U.S. say tackling climate change will boost the economy, according to new consumer research published by The Climate Group and brand strategy and design consultancy Lippincott. And, despite the crisis on Wall Street, Americans are more committed than ever to taking action: consumer commitment to personally doing something about climate change by making a significant effort in how they live their lives has risen–even among those who feel financially worse off. Climate change is also seen as a more pressing issue than it was last year.

Consumers also expressed a strong preference for specific measures that help them save energy and save money, such as permanent price reductions on energy efficient light bulbs, discounts on insulation and help in finding simple ways to reduce energy use such as washing clothes in cold water.

Results of the survey show that people are prepared to make changes to their lifestyles and spend extra time to fight climate change. People also believe that tackling climate change will not cost them money, and many realize they can save money by combating climate change.

Some highlights of the survey include:

  • 63% of Americans said they believe tackling climate change will benefit the economy
  • 52% said tackling climate change will not personally cost them money.
  • Most prefer (as they always did) to contribute by changing their behavior and spending extra time rather than spending extra money.
  • Those feeling financially worse off than last year are scarcely less committed than those feeling better off: 41% of people who said they believe themselves to be financially worse off also said "I am focusing on making changes to my life to combat climate change," only three percentage points below those who did not feel financially worse off.
  • The percentage of people who selected 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 to 7 for level of agreement to the statement “Climate change and how we respond to it are among the biggest issues I worry about today” was just 18% in 2007, but climbed dramatically to 24% in 2008.
  • The percentage of people who selected 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 to 7 for level of agreement to the statement “I am personally making a significant effort to help reduce climate change through how I live my life today” similarly climbed from 13% in 2007 to 21% in 2008.
Callum Grieve, Director of External Affairs with The Climate Group, said, “Now, more than ever, consumers see the value of going green. They know that saving energy also means saving money. People also believe fighting climate change will be good for the economy, and they expect business and government to stick to their commitments despite the economic downturn. The Together campaign makes it easy for consumers to purchase energy efficient products–helping people save energy, money and the planet.”

Simon Glynn, Senior Partner at Lippincott, said, "Consumers are increasingly committed to tackling climate change, despite challenging economic times, and do not see any competition between the two. They are prepared to alter their behavior to effect a change, but don’t recognize the lead we know businesses are already taking. Businesses need to improve the way they connect with consumers, by recognizing the roles that consumers are asking them to play and choosing carefully where their brands can have the greatest impact.”

The research “Consumers, Brands and Climate Change 2008” (now in its second year) explores trends in consumer attitudes and buying behaviors to brands on climate change. It was commissioned by international non-profit organization The Climate Group, in partnership with global brand strategy and design consultancy Lippincott and UK broadcaster Sky.

2008 US Climate Brand Index

1. GE
2. Toyota
3. Honda
4. BP
5. GM

For the second year, the US Climate Brand Index is dominated by manufacturing and auto brands, with GE retaining its top spot and Toyota retaining second place. Honda rose two places to third, one slot ahead of energy brand BP. Newcomer GM displaced rival Ford to join the U.S. “top five” for the first time. Respondents were asked which brands they regarded as taking a lead in battling climate change.

The list confirms for the second year running that there is still significant opportunity for brand leadership and connection with consumers on climate change, as two-thirds of U.S. consumers (65%) were unable to name a brand leading on the issue. Again, research showed people continue to look to mainstream brands–not niche green specialists–for climate solutions.

Other Influences on Consumer Buying Behavior

The research shows that, when presented with a clear choice, consumers tend to be more motivated by practical solutions that enable them to cut their individual carbon footprints (such as renewable energy, energy efficient light bulbs, “green” bank accounts, fuel efficient cars, appliances with automatic switch-off) over corporate statements and labels such as “carbon-neutral”.

The research also showed that consumers are very sensitive to negative press criticism, particularly if company claims are challenged as “greenwash." Around 44% of people said they would definitely consider buying products or services from one retailer after reading its corporate stance, but after seeing a media report critical of those claims, buying appetite dropped by 12 percentage points.

The reverse was also true: a favorable news story in the media pushed up the number of people who would consider buying products by 6 percentage points. Membership in a non-profit organization and endorsement through campaigns such as Together (www.together.com) was also a powerful factor: Hearing that a company was “a member of a campaign run by an independent charity, which gives people easy ways to fight climate change in their everyday lives” lifted likelihood to buy or use a product or service by an average of 5 percentage points.

Callum Grieve, Director of External Affairs with The Climate Group added, “People look to brands not only for value but for values. Consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers products and services that help reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. The research also shows that broader brand commitments are still important, and the views of other influential sources such as the media and non-profit organizations also impact consumer choice.”

The full report “Consumers, Brands and Climate Change 2008” is available online at www.theclimategroup.org/about/publications.

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