Consumers in the US expect to double their spending on green products and services during the next year, totalling an estimated US$500 billion for the year, according to new research from Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates, and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates.
The research also found that, despite bipartisan sentiments on politics and religion, 90% of Americans agree that there are important green issues and problems, and 82% believe it is important for companies to implement environmentally-friendly practices.
Upward green trend
"This research indicates an up-tick in purchase intent for most consumers when it comes to green products and services, particularly those that are relatively simple to implement, such as installing environmentally-friendly lighting and upgrading to energy saving appliances," said Tom Agan, managing director for Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates.
The survey noted that consumer perceptions of "green" continue to change according to various collective definitions, and contribute directly to their buying decisions. In earlier research, for example, consumers indicated a close association of the colour green with environmentally-friendly products. But, as products and awareness have increased in sophistication, perceptions have steadily shifted from saving money and caring for self and society in 2006 toward today's attitude, in which being green is seen as a direct and positive reflection of consumers' social status, in addition to recognizing its broader value to society and the world.
Politics and emotions?
A similar survey in April 2007 defined five "green attitudes" among consumers (ranging from "Bright Green" to "Dull Green"), and the latest survey has added to those group definitions by highlighting the political and emotional state of each.
Dull Green respondents, who are characterised by making the minimum effort to support environmental change, tend to prioritise crime reduction, religious organisations and healthcare as their main causes. At the opposite end of the scale, the majority of Bright Green respondents - those who are doing everything they can to make a long-term positive impact on the environment - tend to care most about the environment, animal rights, and education.
One in five Dull Green consumers is satisfied with the current state of the environment, while most Bright Greens are sad and sceptical about the future outlook, and one in three even feel anger about the situation.
Adapting to attitudes
"The value of examining the everyday lives and activities, as well as the emotions, of our green groups is that we can then adapt and refine the way in which we communicate with them to maximise relevant messages," concluded Annie Longsworth, EVP and managing director for Cohn & Wolfe in San Francisco. "What resonates with Bright Green people is very different from what works for Dull Greens. And this presents some really exciting marketing challenges and opportunities."