Has U.S. Reached Green Turning Point? Depends Which Survey You Read

ecoAmerica has already  posted two articles discussing the result of Yankelovich’s green consumer research survey, GOING Green, here  and here.  The article below discusses the results of a new survey released by GfK Roper, their 2007 Green Gauge report, which seems to contradict the results of the Yankelovich survey.  Which of these surveys is to be trusted as an accurate reflection of consumer attitudes about the environment?  Or are both informative, but in different ways?


Has UEnvironmental_leader_jpegs_2.S. Reached Green Turning Point?  Depends Which Survey You Read

Environmental Leader, Aug. 23, 2007

Eighty-seven percent of consumers are seriously concerned about the environment, according to
the 2007 GfK Roper Green Gauge. The survey is interesting on a number
of fronts, not least of which is how many of the findings seem to
contradict a recent survey released by Yankelovich.

“Consumers are not drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to green,”
said J. Walker Smith, president of Yankelovich. “While they’re highly
aware of environmental issues due to the glut of media attention, the
simple fact is that ‘going green’ in their everyday life is simply not
a big concern or a high priority.”

That survey found that only 34 percent of consumers feel much more concerned about environmental issues today than a year ago.

GfK Roper’s survey segmented respondents on their green attitudes and actions and identified five groups:

  • Apathetics: Not concerned enough about the
    environment to take action and believe environmental indifference is
    the mainstream. This group represents just 18 percent of the
    population. TV programs are their main source of environmental
  • Grousers: Generally uninvolved and disinterested
    in green issues; believe individual behavior cannot improve
    environment. 15 percent of the population. Newspapers again serve as
    their major information source on green issues.
  • Sprouts: Environmental “fence sitters” who buy
    green only if it meets their needs representing just over one quarter
    (26 percent) of the population. One third cite newspapers as their main
    source of green information.
  • Green Back Greens: Do not have time to be
    completely green and not likely to give up comfort and convenience for
    the environment, but willing to buy green products. They represent 10
    percent of the population. Nearly half (49 percent) get information on
    green issues from newspapers.
  • True Blue Greens: Environmental leaders and
    activists most likely to walk the green talk representing almost one
    third (30 percent) of the population. Nearly half (48 percent) turn to
    environmental groups as their main source of green information.

Yankelovich illustrates a similar finding (with different
results) by measuring the degree to which all consumers – from
“Green-less” to “Green-Enthusiasts” – are currently likely to buy a
product based on its green features.

  • Green-less (29 percent) Unmoved by environmental issues and alarms.
  • Green-bits (19 percent) Don’t care but doing a few things.
  • Green-steps (25 percent) Aware, concerned taking steps.
  • Green-speaks (15 percent) Talk the talk more than walk the walk.
  • Green-thusiasts (13 percent) Environment is a passionate concern.

Again, the numbers have some contradictions. GfK Roper’s survey says
that 30 percent of the U.S. population are environmental activists.
Yankelovich pegs the number of people passionate about the environment
at 13 percent.

So why are the results so different? Last month, EL covered
a Marketing Green article about two surveys that measured how concerned
teens are about the environment. Surveys and the reporting of survey
results can be misleading, according to
the post. Marketers should be weary of very high (and low) responses to
questions (or any result that does not pass the gut check), as they are
often a sign that the question was leading or unclear to respondents.


The original post can be found here at environmental LEADER: Daily News for Corporate Decision Makers, August 23, 2007.

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