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Survey finding shifts in green attitudes and behaviours
Yesterday, SC Johnson and GfK Roper Consulting released survey findings on American consumer green attitudes and behaviours, painting a compelling picture of the evolution of consumer interests and actions over the last two decades. Of course the attitudes we have as consumers affects the way we think and behave at work, so this survey is worth examining.
The SC Johnson proprietary survey, which is part of the 20th Anniversary Green Gauge survey, examines how American consumers' environmental knowledge affects their actions and behaviours. The results found that 75% of American consumers say they feel good when they take steps to help the environment, a positive sentiment that is reflected by their increased environmental actions.
"It is empowering to see the dramatic shifts in behaviour change and to gain greater insight into tiers of consumer influence," says Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. "To move the needle even further, all parties - government, businesses and consumers - need to continue to take responsibility and action. For SC Johnson, this means working hard to find new ways to help families make greener choices."
Survey data shows that influencing behaviour change is possible, and when compared to 1990, Americans are now two times as likely to sort waste to separate garbage from recyclable materials and buy products made from or packaged in recycled materials. Both financial incentives and penalties (both ranked at 49%) have a greater influence on consumers' green behaviours than pressure from family, friends and government - with celebrities having the least reported impact at 7%.
Individuals find they can "do a little" to help the environment and make positive decisions rather than doing nothing or doing a lot. The tempering of expectations may be contributed to today's economic reality. While 48% of those surveyed are concerned for the environment, they admit there are more important issues to be addressed today. Some 41% state economic security is their number one concern, followed by environmental problems - up from 13 percentage points from pre-recession 2007.
While today's economy is top of mind, when asked who should take the lead in addressing environmental problems and issues, 38% ranked "individual Americans" and 29 % ranked "business and industry." Individual behaviour changes can be attributed to increased knowledge and understanding of what is good and bad for the environment.
The survey findings show that Americans are both increasingly knowledgeable about environmental impacts and crave more information. Typically, lack of environmental knowledge is one of the most cited barriers to personal engagement with protecting the environment. In 1990, 39% of American consumers surveyed admitted that they were very confused about what's good and what's bad for the environment; while in 2011, the number of people with the same response dropped to 18%.
With increased knowledge comes increased action - by both consumers and businesses. "GfK Roper's partnership with SC Johnson has allowed us to conduct a deeper analysis into the American consumer's understanding and green actions," says Timothy Kenyon, Director of the GfK Roper Green Gauge Report, GfK Custom Research North America. "In 1990, SC Johnson took the lead in seeking insight into American consumer actions and behaviours. Since then, we have been able to develop strong analytics to guide best business practices."
In 1990, SC Johnson commissioned a pioneer study, The Environment: Public Attitudes and Individual Behaviour, providing insight into the future of America's commitment to preserving and protecting the environment. The study was executed by GfK Roper and was the precursor to the Green Gauge Report - said to be the first, large-scale survey to measure both green attitudes and behaviours. This year, once again SC Johnson teamed up with GfK Roper and sponsored a select set of questions to measure changes in consumer buying behaviours and their expectations for Corporate America's environmental behaviours.
13th October 2011