Shoppers Willing to Boycott Misleading "Green" Products

Survey Shows 75% of Consumers Care about Legitimacy of Green Claims

Written by Green Chip Stocks
Posted March 30, 2011

The 2011 Green Gap Trend Tracker — a survey conducted by research and consulting firm Cone — reveals Americans value honesty over perfection in environmental marketing...greenlabels

The results of the survey reveal nearly three-quarters of consumers will cease from buying a product if they feel misled by its environmental claims.

What's more, more than one third (37%) will go further, and boycott that company's product line entirely.

Only 11% of those who participated in the survey responded that their buying behavior would not change based on misleading marketing.

Consumers emphasize that more than anything, they are seeking information when they compare products.

The Cone survey was conducted earlier this month among a "demographically representative U.S." and assessed the responses of 1,040 adult consumers over age 18 — 515 men and 525 women.

The study reported the vast majority of those polled say it is alright with them if a company is not "environmentally perfect", so long as the company is honest and transparent about its efforts...

Americans continue to misunderstand phrases commonly used in environmental marketing and advertising, giving products a greater halo than they may deserve. At the same time, most Americans are willing to punish a company for using misleading claims.

The survey results pointed out that most consumers are overwhelmed by environmental claims in the marketplace in general, and this leads to a distrust and confusion among more than half of all consumers:

  • 59% say it is only acceptable for marketers to use general environmental claims when they are backed up with additional detail and explanation.
  • 23% say vague environmental claims should never be used.
  • 79% want detailed information readily accessible on product packaging.
  • 75% wish companies would do a better job helping them understand the environmental terms they use.

The majority of American consumers — 97% — reported that they feel they know what basic phrases mean in marketing used for environmentally-friendly products, a startling 41% believed this meant the product benefited the environment in some way instead of leaving less impact.

Sixty percent said they will only consider a product's claims when it is backed up by additional information; 80% want to see details on a product's packaging of what makes this product more environmentally sound than what they've been using.

In general, consumers feel companies should be more responsible and do a better job of explaining terminology in green marketing.

More trusted than words like "environmentally friendly" and "green" are certifications labels...

Only one-third of those surveyed said they would purchase something based on phrases alone; more than fifty percent said a certification label on packaging would have selling power.

While it's great to hear consumers value honesty above a company having a spotless green record, the confusion and ignorance of terms used in advertising is something that should be made a priority...

I think it's important to inform consumers across the board that "environmentally friendly" products aren't out planting trees on Arbor Day, but more likely packaged with less plastic or post-consumer product.