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A national online survey, conducted for the second consecutive year, uncovered good news for businesses promoting green products or services – the vast majority of consumers are either buying the same or an increased amount of environmentally responsible products.
“Past studies have shown that consumers who strive to lead green lifestyles are actively seeking out businesses with those shared values but may have a difficult time identifying those businesses”
The second annual survey of 2,014 U.S. adults 18 and older was conducted April 28-30, 2010, by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Tork brand of SCA Tissue. The survey found that two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. adults who consider themselves buyers of green products have retained their level of green purchases. Additionally, 25 percent have increased their green buying in light of the recent changes in the economy. Only eight percent of green buyers said that their green purchases had declined in 2010 as a result of the economy.
“The results of the two surveys indicate a true trend – that consumer interest in green is here to stay, regardless of region, age, gender or the country’s economic state,” said Mike Kapalko, SCA Tissue’s sustainability marketing manager.
What the results mean to business owners
While marketers and sellers of green products can feel good about the continued consumer desire to buy green, the survey also provides considerable insight to business owners and may offer guidance to enhance their business practices.
For example, 62 percent of adults indicated they are either equally as likely or more likely to visit a business that focused on being green, regardless of distance or effort required. As a result, Kapalko believes that additional opportunity exists for business owners who simply do a better job of communicating their efforts.
“Past studies have shown that consumers who strive to lead green lifestyles are actively seeking out businesses with those shared values but may have a difficult time identifying those businesses,” said Kapalko. “One issue is that business owners aren’t communicating their green efforts in the places their consumers are looking. Some don’t offer visible third-party certifications for consumers to verify green claims. And according to the 2010 Tork Report (Healthy People, Healthy Planet), around 60 percent of businesses aren’t communicating green efforts at all. In many cases, simply providing detailed information could result in an improved reputation and an increase in sales.”
Getting the word out
While previous studies have shown that most companies promote green efforts publicly via corporate websites, this recent 2010 Harris survey found that Web site promotion is one of the least preferred ways for consumers to learn about corporate green initiatives.
Twenty-eight percent of adults feel that designations on menus or store shelves for greener choices are the best places for businesses or restaurants to communicate their commitment to being green, 19 percent feel the best way to communicate this commitment is via flyers or visible posters, while just nine percent look on a company’s Web site for explanation of their green program or approach.
“This portion of the survey clearly shows that despite improvements in technology and more general reliability on technology today, consumers still prefer that information is made available at the point of purchase,” said Kapalko.
Underscoring the challenges faced by consumers, survey results also revealed uncertainty about how to verify green claims such as “environmentally friendly” or “organic.” Asked the most reliable way to determine whether or not a green claim or statement is true, 28 percent say they are not sure, followed by 23 percent who say they would trust their own research, such as looking up information or trying of the product or service themselves. More than one in five (21 percent) say they would rely on independent third-party certifications. Kapalko suggests businesses clearly identify and back up any claims about their green products and services by providing credible sources to consumers in a clear, transparent and accessible way.
As a committed partner to businesses in more than 90 countries and with expertise in hygiene and sustainability, Tork offers a range of tools to help bridge the gap for business owners. For starters, business owners can download a variety of useful items from the brand’s Web site, Torkusa.com, including:
In addition, business owners can take advantage of tips, best practice examples and perspectives on how they can create sustainable and healthy work and home environments shared by members of the Tork Green Hygiene Council, a group of top professional and academic authorities from across the country with expertise in green building, corporate sustainability, hygiene and germ prevention. SCA created the TGHC to assist in its ongoing commitment to providing hygienic and environmentally responsible away-from-home washroom solutions. For more information, check Torkgreenhygienecouncil.com.