1 in 2 Americans Still Overwhelmed by – and Skeptical of – Environmental Messages

April 5, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Brand Metrics | CSR & Environmental

Cone-Consumer-Attitudes-to-Environmental-Claims-Apr2013About 7 in 10 Americans at least sometimes consider the environmental impacts of the products they purchase when shopping, per the latest “Green Gap Trend Tracker” [download page] from Cone Communications. But, they might companies to tone it down just a bit when it comes to their “green” messaging: 48% say they are overwhelmed by the amount of environmental messages they hear and see. That percentage hasn’t dropped much from 2008, either, when it stood at 52%.

Something else holding steady over the years: consumer skepticism regarding environmental messaging by companies. Only 46% trust companies to tell them the truth, up slightly from 44% last year, and roughly on par with 2008 (47%). And they remain just as likely to punish companies for misleading claims: 78% would stop buying the product, relatively unchanged from 77% last year.

Consumers are holding companies to higher standards this year, though. 69% said it is okay if a company is not environmentally perfect, as long as it is honest about its environmental efforts. That represents an 8% drop from last year, when three-quarters of respondents were that forgiving.

Other Findings:

  • 63% of respondents understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising, but 71% wish companies would do a better job helping them understand the environmental terms they use to talk about their products and services. Both are unchanged from last year.
  • 45% actively seek out environmental information about the products they buy.
  • When they see a product advertised as “green” or “environmentally friendly,” about 1 in 10 Americans don’t believe it means anything. Most commonly, though, they believe it means it has a positive (beneficial) impact on the environment (40%). Only about one-quarter correctly believe it means that a product has a lighter impact than other similar products (22%), or less impact than it used to (2%).

About the Data: The 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker presents the findings of an online survey conducted March 7-10, 2013 by ORC International among a demographically representative sample of 1,068 adults, comprising 552 men and 516 women 18 years of age and older. The margin of error associated with a sample of this size is ± 3% at a 95% level of confidence.


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