Two-Thirds of Americans Agree: Brands Must Be Environmentally Responsible

GfK-Consumer-Attitudes-Environmental-Responsibility-Apr2015Two-thirds of US consumers (aged 15 and older) agree that brands must be environmentally responsible, but that level of agreement is trumped by several other countries tracked in a recently-released GfK survey. In fact, an average of 76% of respondents across the 23 countries surveyed agreed with the statement regarding brands’ environmental responsibility. The difference owes to gap in the percentage of US respondents who strongly agreed with the statement (17% vs. the global average of 28%).

The global results indicate fairly broad agreement with brands’ environmental responsibility across age groups, ranging from a low of 69% among 15-19-year-olds to a high of 80% among those aged 30-39. That’s interesting, given prior research suggesting that younger groups (at least in the US) take social responsibility into account more than other generations when making purchase decisions.

As for purchases, the GfK survey results indicate that 63% of respondents globally agree that they only buy products and services that appeal to their beliefs, values or ideals. The US tally (54%) again falls behind the global average, although it’s closer to the median in this result than in the findings about brands’ responsibility.

Among age groups, 30-39-year-olds (68%) and 20-29-year-olds (65%) show the broadest levels of agreement with buying on beliefs and values, with the 15-19 and 60+ brackets a little further behind (57% each).

There’s certainly room to argue that consumers’ claims don’t match their actual behavior, as research has suggested that consumers are more likely to say they prefer to buy from socially-responsible companies than to actually pay a premium to do so. That may partly be due to skepticism regarding brands’ environmental messaging. Nevertheless, consumer willingness to pay extra for products from socially responsible companies has been rising of late, and as GfK notes in its survey results, “with so much competition for consumers’ money, everything that brands can do to align with their customers will help them stand out and win loyalty.”

So which brands are doing best on this measure? Brand Keys today released a list of the top 50 brands “deemed authentically and resolutely ‘green’ by their own customers.” Some notable brands on the list include:

  • Amazon.com;
  • Apple;
  • Coke;
  • Pepsi;
  • Samsung; and
  • Walmart.

About the Data: For the survey, GfK interviewed over 28,000 people aged 15 or older in 23 countries, either online or face-to-face, in summer 2014. The countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, Ukraine and USA.