Marketers Warned to Avoid ‘Green Trap’

November 7, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

CPG & FMCG | Pharma & Healthcare

America’s consumers offer a warning to business leaders and marketers who would attempt to ride the green wave: back your eco-friendly words with socially responsible actions, else risk a backlash.

Conscious consumers are demanding that companies be transparent about their practices and accountable for their impact on people and the planet, writes Environmental Leader, citing the inaugural BBMG Conscious Consumer Report.

Nearly nine in ten Americans say the words “conscious consumer” describe them well,  and they are more likely -  if products are of equal quality and price – to buy from companies that…

  • Manufacture energy efficient products (90%)
  • Promote health and safety benefits (88%)
  • Support fair labor and trade practices (87%)
  • Commit to environmentally friendly practices (87%)


“In a world of green clutter, conscious consumers expect companies to do more than make eco-friendly claims. They demand transparency and accountability across every level of business practice,” said Raphael Bemporad, founding partner of BBMG. “Avoiding the green trap means authentically backing your words with socially responsible actions.”

Among other  findings of the study:

  • Consumers are looking beyond the buzz to make more informed decisions about the products they buy and the companies they support:
    • Most use magazines and newspapers (53%), certification seals on products (52%), the internet (41%) and advertisements (30%) for more information.
    • Friends and family members (24%) are influential, but not the primary source of information for determining whether a company “does good things for people and the planet.”
  • Consumers’ most important issues are the ones that affect their health and wellness most directly:
    • They primarily cite issues such as safe drinking water (90%), clean air (86%) and finding cures for diseases like cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer’s (84%).
    • By comparison, 63% describe global warming as the most or a very important issue.


  • Americans readily self-identify as “conscious consumers” (88% say the term describes them well, 37% very well), “socially responsible” (88% well, 39% very well) and “environmentally friendly” (86% well, 34% very well).
  • By contrast, fewer respondents self-identify as “green” (65% well, 18% very well), which is viewed as a more exclusive category.


  • While price (58% very important) and quality (66% very important) are paramount, convenience (34% very important) is edged out by more socially relevant attributes: Where a product is made (44% very important), how energy efficient it is (41% very important) and its health benefits (36% very important) are all integral to consumers’ purchasing decisions. See chart for attributes considered “very important” or “important” – combined:


  • Whole Foods Market (22%) tops the list of the survey’s most socially responsible companies, followed by Newman’s Own (19%), Wal-Mart (18%), Burt’s Bees (17%) and General Electric, Johnson & Johnson and Ben & Jerry’s (all 16%).


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