With gas prices barreling toward $4 per gallon, there's lots of talk on the evening news about consumers shopping for fuel-efficient cars. In fact, many theorists see $4 as the tipping point at which car buyers prioritize fuel economy above all other criteria. But a new survey indicates that people aren't just interested in greener cars to save money; they're buying them because they're morally superior to other products.
The data comes from an online survey of U.S. adults sponsored by NBC Universal -- a follow-up to a similar poll carried out in 2009. The 2011 stats for the "Green is Universal" survey show increasing support for eco-minded products, companies, and policies, and indicate that the public is willing to pay more for green items in the marketplace.
Given all the brou-ha-ha we often hear about "eco-terrorism" and climate change hoaxes, it's surprising to learn that 93% of those surveyed feel a personal obligation to take care of the planet, and 91% believe that if they don't, future generations will suffer. It's entirely possible that certain politicians and talk radio personalities are behind the curve on this one.
Moreover, about 90% of the survey's respondents say that corporations have a responsibility to go green, both in their products and in their workplaces. When a company does so, the payoffs can be huge: of those surveyed, 77% say that their impression of a company improves if it supports environmental causes, and 62% say that they try to purchase products from those companies because of their eco-friendly actions. On the flip side, only 27% of survey participants said that they had actively boycotted a company due to its lack of green policies or products -- not a huge number, but environmentalists can take heart in the fact that it's up 9% from just two years ago.
The big takeaway from the "Green is Universal" poll is that the American public is growing ever greener. Consumers clearly prefer eco-friendly products, and they're willing to pay more for them -- not just because they can offer savings over the long haul, but because they're environmentally responsible, and therefore morally superior to others in the marketplace. That could bode well for the future of hybrids, EVs, and other green vehicles.
Of course, NBC Universal's poll wasn't focused exclusively on cars, so we can't draw hard-and-fast conclusions about consumers and green rides. Shelling out a few more bucks for locally grown tomatoes or CFL lightbulbs is a far cry from forking over extra thousands for an EV that requires regular recharging and offers less range than a comparable vehicle with a combustion engine.
And we'd be remiss not to point out that this poll's data flies in the face of a recent study from GfK Research, which implied exactly the opposite: that consumers are primarily interested in saving money, not the planet. This is borne out in recent sales data, which showed compact vehicles at the top of the charts during the gas price spikes of 2008, but lower MPG models gaining ground once fuel prices slipped downward. It would appear that the things people say don't always match up with the things people do.
For more information about the NBC Universal "Green is Universal" poll, check out the press release below.
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New Green is Universal Poll Reveals Green Consumerism is on the Rise, With Two-Thirds of Consumers Willing to Pay More for Eco-Products from Brands They Trust
Overwhelming 90% of consumers say companies have a social responsibility to protect the environment
NEW YORK, Apr. 12 /CSRwire/ - Green consumerism is on the rise, with 78% of consumers believing more than ever that buying green is a way to shop with their values and ethics (up 9 points vs. two years ago), according to a new Green is Universal poll, "Green in the Economy II." The poll was originally conducted in 2009, and was just re-fielded to pulse the change in consumer sentiment around green.
The findings clearly indicate that there is a larger appetite for green products than there was two years ago - with brand loyalty playing a key factor. 68% of consumers say it's worth paying more for a green product or service if it is a brand they trust (an increase of 8 points vs. 2 years ago). The poll also reveals that an overwhelming majority of consumers feel they have a personal responsibility to take care of the earth (93%), and believe that if we don't do so, there will be negative consequences for future generations (91%).
"These findings underscore that consumers are increasingly shopping with their values, particularly when it comes to the environment," said Beth Colleton, Vice President, Green is Universal. "This is an enormous opportunity for marketers to communicate their brand's commitment to green, as a way to build both loyalty and returns for their business."
Not only do consumers hold themselves accountable when it comes to protecting the earth, but they believe companies should be held to the same standard. Nine out of 10 consumers say companies have a social responsibility to protect the environment, and three-quarters (77%) say they have a more favorable impression of companies that promote environmental causes. Putting their money where their mouth is, findings show substantially more consumers who say they have boycotted a company/product in the past year, because it had policies and practices that were not environmentally responsible (27%) (up 8 points from 2009).
Additional highlights from a related but separate Green is Universal poll on re-use, "From Trash To Treasure," include the following:
* 62% say they are making a conscious effort to purchase products made by environmentally responsible companies
* 68% say they are paying more attention to whether products are made from recycled materials
* 84% appreciate companies who make it easier for them to recycle
* 78% appreciate companies who make using recycled materials a priority because it provides them with an easy way to help the environment
* 57% say they are likely to encourage others to buy products that are made from recycled materials
About Green is Universal:
Launched in May 2007, Green is Universal is NBC Universal's ongoing green initiative dedicated to raising Green awareness, effecting positive change to the environment, and greening its own operations. Throughout the year, NBC Universal uses it numerous media and entertainment platforms to educate the public on the environment, with over 250 hours of green-themed content airing across over 45 NBCU brands.
*METHODOLOGY: "Green in the Economy II" conducted online among 1,647 US Adults 18 years and older on the NBCUniversal Contemporary Consumer Panel between 2/25/11 - 3/8/11. Green is Universal's "Re-Use" study conducted online among 844 US Adults 18 years and older on the NBCUniversal Contemporary Consumer Panel between 3/9/11-3/14/11. Data for both of these studies were weighted to reflect the Total US A18+ online population.