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2013 cone communications green gap trend tracker press release and fact sheet
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2013 cone communications green gap trend tracker press release and fact sheet


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Cone Communications Trend Tracker

Cone Communications Trend Tracker

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  • 1. CONSUMERS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR “GREEN” ACTIONS BUT AREN’T FOLLOWING THROUGH, ACCORDING TO LATEST CONE COMMUNICATIONS RESEARCH Facing resource and knowledge barriers, Americans look to companies for helpBOSTON (April 2, 2013) – Earth Day may be just around the corner, but consumers are buying withan eye toward “green” all year long. A record-high 71 percent of Americans consider the environmentwhen they shop, up from 66 percent in 2008*. Additionally, nearly half (45%) of consumers actively seekout environmental information about the products they buy, according to the five-year benchmark ofthe 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker.ACCOUNTABILITY VERSUS ACTIONEven as “green” becomes increasingly top of mind, Americans still struggle with their role in the lifecycleof products with an environmental benefit. Nine-in-10 said they believe it’s their responsibility toproperly use and dispose of these products, but action isn’t aligning with intent: • Only 30% say they often use products in a way that achieves the intended environmental benefit • 42% say they dispose of products in a way that fulfills the intended environmental benefitDespite the lack of consistent follow-through, consumers are showing an inclination to learn more.Americans report they regularly read and follow instructions on how to properly use (71%) or dispose(66%) of a product. Forty-one percent said they perform additional research to determine how best toutilize and discard a product for maximum benefit.CLOSING THE GAP: ACCESS AND COMMUNICATIONSNearly all respondents (85%) want companies to educate them on how to properly use and dispose ofproducts. But they identify significant barriers to doing so, as well. One-third of consumers (33%) citednot having the adequate resources, such as disposal bins and community access, as the primary reasonfor not disposing or using products as intended, while 20 percent stated they simply do not know how todo so.Consumer understanding of environmental messages also presents an obstacle. Although more than 60percent of respondents say they understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising,the majority continue to erroneously believe common expressions such as “green” or “environmentallyfriendly” mean a product has a positive (40%) or neutral (22%) impact on the environment. Fewer wereable to correctly identify these terms as meaning the product has a lighter impact than other similarproducts (22%) or less than it used to (2%). Despite the attention given to product development andenvironmental marketing, consumer misunderstanding of “green” claims has remained flat at around 60percent since 2008.“The new green gap is about consumers only taking the idea of responsibility so far, despite feelingresponsible for proper use and disposal,” says Liz Gorman, Cone Communications’ senior vice presidentof Sustainable Business Practices. “They’re buying with the environment in mind, but they rely oncompanies to provide access and education to truly ‘close the loop.’”* 2008 Green Gap Survey 855 Boylston Street | Boston MA 02116 617.227.2111 |
  • 2. HONESTY AND CLARITY TRUMP PERFECTIONAlmost three-quarters (71%) of consumers wish companies would do a better job helping themunderstand environmental terms. Although they feel overwhelmed by the volume of messages in themarketplace, consumers prioritize authenticity over perfection and will punish companies if they feelmisled: • 48% percent say they are overwhelmed by environmental messages • 69% say it’s okay if a company is not environmentally perfect as long as it is honest • 78% say they will boycott a product if they discover an environmental claim to be misleadingWhen it comes to finding those environmental messages, consumers are primarily looking onthe product itself, signaling prime real estate for companies looking to communicate importantenvironmental information: • 45% say they are most likely to use on-pack resources for information about how to properly use and dispose of environmental products • 26% say they are most likely to use an online search“Consumers are ready to follow through on the intended use or disposal of environmentally preferredproducts, but they need companies’ help,” Gorman explains. “This is the next evolution of environmentalmarketing. Clear and candid communication can ensure consumers understand the important role theyplay in minimizing the impacts associated with the product’s lifecycle.” 855 Boylston Street | Boston MA 02116 617.227.2111 |
  • 3. About the ResearchThe 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker presents the findings of an online survey conductedMarch 7-10, 2013 by ORC International among a demographically representative sample of 1,068 adults,comprising 552 men and 516 women 18 years of age and older. The margin of error associated with a sample ofthis size is ± 3% at a 95% level of confidence. Some figures may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.About Cone Communications:Cone Communications ( is a public relations and marketing agency known for ignitingbrands with high-impact strategies and programs based in deep insights, unique subject matter expertise andinnovation. Focusing on key areas such as consumer product media relations, social media, cause branding andmarketing, corporate social responsibility, nonprofit marketing, corporate communications and crisis prevention/management – the agency is positioned to help clients achieve both business and societal outcomes. ConeCommunications is a part of Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom Group Inc.About Diversified Agency ServicesDiversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (,manages Omnicom’s holdings in a variety of marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200companies, which operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving internationaland local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.About Omnicom Group Inc.Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) ( is a leading global marketing and corporatecommunications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising,strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing,public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries. 855 Boylston Street | Boston MA 02116 617.227.2111 |
  • 4. 2013 GREEN GAP TREND TRACKER FACT SHEET Americans consider the environmental impacts of their purchasing: 7% Every time they shop 8% 9% 20% Regularly 25% 21% 2013 44% Sometimes 39% 2012 36% 20% 2008 Rarely 19% 20% 10% Never 12% 15% 0 10 20 30 40 50 Americans believe it’s their responsibility to properly use and dispose of “green” products, but they also rely on companies’ help: It is my responsibility to properly use and dispose of “green” products for 90% the greatest environmental benefit Companies are responsible for making sure consumers like me know how to properly use and dispose of “green” 85% products for the greatest environmental benefit 80% I don’t believe it’s my responsibility to properly use and dispose of "green” products; I think I make enough of a 27%positive impact by simply buying products with environmental claims 0 20 40 60 80 100 855 Boylston Street | Boston MA 02116 3 617.227.2111 |
  • 5. 2013 GREEN GAP TREND TRACKER FACT SHEET In the past six months, Americans have:100 80 75% 71% 60 66% 40 41% 20 0 Used a product in a way Read and followed Read and followed Done additional research to learn that achieved its intended instructions on how to instructions on how to how to properly use and/or environmental benefit properly use a product with properly dispose of a product dispose of a product with an an environmental claim with an environmental claim environmental claim Americans give the following reasons for not using or disposing of a “green” product as intended: None of these; I always use I don’t have enough time 30% and dispose of “green” products properly 8% It’s not important or a priority for me to do so 10% 80% 19% 33% I don’t know how to do I don’t have the proper so properly resources, such as disposal bins or community access 855 Boylston Street | Boston MA 02116 4 617.227.2111 |
  • 6. 2013 GREEN GAP TREND TRACKER FACT SHEET When Americans see a product advertised as “green” or “environmentally friendly,” they believe it means: The product has a positive 40%[i.e., beneficial] impact on the 36% environment 48% The product has a 22% lighter impact than other 25% similar products 18% 22% The product has a neutral impact on the environment 18% 14% 2013 They don’t believe it 9% 2012 means anything 11% 7% 2008 The product has a 2% negative impact, but less 3% than it used to 4% 5% They don’t know 6% what it means 10% 0 10 20 30 40 50 If consumers discover an environmental claim is misleading, they will: Continue buying the 22% product 23% 2013 2012 Stop buying the 78% product 77% 0 20 40 60 80 100 855 Boylston Street | Boston MA 02116 5 617.227.2111 |
  • 7. 2013 GREEN GAP TREND TRACKER FACT SHEET Americans’ beliefs about environmental messaging by companies: I understand the 63% environmental terms 63% companies use in their advertising 61% I am overwhelmed by the 48% amount of environmental 52% messages I hear and see 52% 46% I trust companies to tell 2013 me the truth 44% 47% 2012 It is okay if a company is not environmentally 69% 2008 perfect, as long as it is 75% honest about its environmental effortsI wish companies would do a better job helping meunderstand the environmental 71% terms they use to talk about 71% their products and services (e.g., “compostable,” “recyclable,” “all natural”) I actively seek out environmental 45% information about the 43% products I buy I trust that companies are following U.S. government guidelines regarding making 56% clear and accurate environmental marketing claims 0 20 40 60 80 100 855 Boylston Street | Boston MA 02116 6 617.227.2111 |
  • 8. 2013 GREEN GAP TREND TRACKER FACT SHEET Americans are motivated to purchase environmental products because: They believe it’s healthier 88%for themselves, their families 88% or their communities They want to preserve the 87% environment for future 85% generations It will save them time or 2013 84%money in the long-run (e.g., saves water, electricity) 90% 2012 They believe it’s a better 78% product (e.g., better 82% design, higher quality) It’s a way for them to 58% show others they care 60% about the environment 0 20 40 60 80 100 Americans are most likely to use the following resources to find more information about a product’s environmental claims: Social media Company’s 5% website 11% In-store 13% 45% On the product package or label Online search 26% 855 Boylston Street | Boston MA 02116 7 617.227.2111 |