Green Consumer Confidence Index Reveals Reserve, Optimism

Live science logo2 GreenBiz.com, Earthsense, and Survey Sampling produced the Green Confidence Index, which will measure American consumers' confidence in green initiatives along with tracking awareness of various green issues and willingness to make green purchases. One of the greatest benefits of the Index are that it will be taken monthly, creating a baseline for measuring consumer attitudes towards green.

Posted Nov. 2, 2009
By Leslie Meredith, Live Science

The Green Confidence Index, a monthly index designed to measure
Americans’ confidence in the green efforts of leaders and institutions
and track the change in consumer understanding of green
issues and their willingness to buy green, launched today. The index
creators say it is the first comprehensive monthly tracking of
consumers' green attitudes and purchasing.

The initial results are no surprise: Green product purchases remain
flat due to the anemic economy. But confidence in all things green rose
slightly in September.

The Index was produced by GreenBiz.com in partnership with marketing
research firm Earthsense, and national polling company Survey Sampling
International. It is based on a monthly survey of more than 2,500
adults who are nationally representative of the U.S. adult online
population and calculated using responses in three areas:

  1. Responsibility: Consumers rate how well various groups are
    addressing environmental issues, information. Groups include the U.S.
    government, state and local governments, major corporations and the
    respondent’s own employer, neighbors and self. Each is rated on a
    simple scale including too much, enough or too little.
  2. Information:
    Respondents report whether or not they feel they have enough
    information environmental issues and solutions to make informed
    decisions when both “small ticket” items (groceries, personal care,
    apparel, household care, office supplies) and "big ticket" items
    (household appliances, electronics, and cars), as well as when voting
    and investing.
  3. Purchasing: Respondents report on green
    purchases made over the past year as well as anticipated green
    purchases over the next 12 months for the same categories specified
    under Information.

Each area is assigned a weighted score: responsibility at 40
percent, information at 20 percent and purchasing at 40 percent for a
total confidence score based on an index of 100.0 set in July 2009. A
score above 100 indicates increased confidence, while a score that
falls below 100 shows less overall confidence in the greening of
America. Today’s report shows consumer confidence stands at 103.8 at
the end of September.

The Index provides a broad view of environmental perceptions in the
U.S. and more important, it provides a regular sampling of data making
it possible to spot changes in consumer attitudes over time. By
surveying monthly, the Green Confidence Index can illuminate real-time
shifts and nuances that annual or occasional studies can't see.

For example, appliance manufacturers, retailers and U.S. Department
of Energy, may find it valuable to use the date to determine the impact
of its upcoming Cash for Appliances program, the follow-up to the
government’s automobile rebate program, which generated 700,000 new car
sales between July 27 and August 24.

The federal government is preparing to roll out Cash for Appliances,
a $300 million program offering rebates to buyers of more energy
efficient appliances and other products with the Energy Star label.
Each state is responsible for managing its program. New York will be
one of the first to launch the appliance program, scheduled for Feb. 12
– 21, California and Florida will start later in the spring.

Joel Makower from Greener World Media said, “It [The Green
Confidence Index] will provide a reality check for green optimists and
pessimists alike: tracking the mood of Americans while shining a light
on the faith they put in business, government, and other institutions
to address our environmental challenges — and how, and how well, those
institutions are perceived to be doing their jobs.”

Consumer confidence rose slightly in September, and the report
indicates consumers are looking ahead to a better economic climate come
2010. Major findings:

  1. Consumers have higher perceptions of the efforts of
    themselves and their employers. Half feel they are doing enough, but
    say that only 22.7 percent of major companies (exluding their own
    employers) are doing their fair share.
  2. Green information is
    seen as being more readily available for energy-guzzling products such
    as vehicles (58.7 percent) and household appliances (56.6 percent). No
    surprise there, with the run of the government’s Cash for Clunkers
    rebate program during the summer and the publicity surrounding its
    follow-up appliance program.
  3. Green product
    purchases remain flat. The biggest barrier to purchasing green items is
    cost. In the present economy, consumers have tightened their belts, and
    even environmental concerns can’t overcome the harsh reality of
    shrinking spending for 41 percent of the respondents. But consumers are
    hopeful for better times in 2010. More than three in five who haven't
    purchased green say they are considering doing so in the coming year.

With consumers looking forward to 2010, retailers are right to be
cautious about the upcoming holiday shopping season. Although the
Consumer Electronics Association, predicts an eight percent rise in
electronics purchases, research firm NPD Group Inc. recently released
their annual Holiday Retail Outlook 2009. The verdict: Consumers intend
to spend four percent less this holiday season over last year, and will
spend a mere one percent more on electronics. Even green can’t save Christmas.

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