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34% of Consumers Think of Themselves as Green-Survey Says

Saying they perceive green brands as better quality, respondents ranked Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Trader Joe's the top three green brands in the survey--little surprise given the companies' market-leading, grassroots strategies that have enabled them to build national brands synonymous with quality, community and organic food.

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The adoption curve of "green" consumer behavior equals that of cell phones and computern...

Whole Foods Is Consumers' Favorite Green Brand
by Emily Burg, Thursday, May 10, 2007 5:00 AM ET

A NEW STUDY FROM WPP'S research arms indicates a major shift in U.S. consumers' thinking--nearly all Americans surveyed had a high degree of consciousness about the environment that impacted their buying patterns and brand preferences as compared with a year ago, with eight in 10 consumers saying they believe it's important to buy green brands and products from green companies, and that they'll pay more to do so.

The 2007 ImagePower Green Brands Survey asked participants what they believe constitutes a "green practice," asking them which brands are most successful at executing green strategies. Saying they perceive green brands as better quality, respondents ranked Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Trader Joe's the top three green brands in the survey--little surprise given the companies' market-leading, grassroots strategies that have enabled them to build national brands synonymous with quality, community and organic food. Toyota and Honda follow next on the list--both for their hybrid cars, which have become increasingly popular in the wake of high gas prices and grim news about global warming.

"One third, or 34%, of those surveyed this year think of themselves as being green, saying they are doing whatever they can to have a positive impact on the environment," Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer, Landor Associates, told Marketing Daily. "That's a huge change from last year, when 58% of those surveyed weren't interested in the environment at all. When you think about the adoption curve of anything else--computers, cell phones--nothing else has had as high an adoption curve."

The survey, conducted by WPP's Landor Associates, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates and Cohn & Wolfe, found that U.S. consumers see environmental issues as extremely relevant to their lives as compared with a year ago, when most U.S. consumers were unfamiliar with the concept of green and how their actions affect the environment. Now, the survey reports, consumers are so conscious of environmental issues that they have changed their expectations from businesses and expect green options--and are willing to pay more for them--when they are making purchasing decisions.

One of the easiest ways consumers can be green, Meyer said, is in their choice of appliances. "With appliances, consumers say, here's a way I can make a difference without it having a huge impact on their lives." Sub Zero ranked six in the survey, with GE, whose Ecomagination campaign has really raised its green profile, coming in at number nine.

Ikea, number seven on the list--which has sought to eliminate plastic bags from its stores--has definitely put its money where its mouth is regarding green practices. It's followed by the Body Shop--a global company that has been practicing fair trade and encouraging the use of renewable resources since its inception, but whose brand has always been perceived as hippie earth mother, like its founder Anita Roddick, rather than high-end diva.

High-end beauty and skin care company Aveda makes the list at number ten. "Consumers are willing to pay more for green products, and that's a change," Meyer said. "Consumers had traditionally said I want it, but I don't want it to come out of my pocket. Now they're saying, 'I see green as a higher-quality product, as being a better value, and I see what I get for what I pay for'."

SOURCE: MediaPost Publications

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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