America’s Greenest Brands

Jun 11, 2010

By George Anderson

The Great Recession may have left American consumers thinking
more about their personal finances than saving the planet, but environmental
issues are still of importance for large numbers of people when deciding where
to shop and what to buy.

According to the fifth annual ImagePower Green Brands
Survey by WPP and Esty Environmental Partners, 35 percent of Americans plan
to spend more on green products over the next year.

“In the United States,
75 percent of consumers say that it is somewhat or very important to them that
the brands they buy come from green companies, although more people said that
this was ‘very important’ in 2009,” said
Scott Siff, executive vice president of Penn Schoen Berland, one of the WPP agencies
participating in the survey. “While the economy has driven down the priority
of green for consumers, we can expect that as the recovery continues, the importance
of green will come roaring back.”

Energy conservation is seen as the biggest
green issue in the U.S. today.

“Being seen as environmentally conscious continues to be an important brand
attribute with all consumers; in fact, it ranks fourth behind ‘good value,’ ‘trustworthy’
and ‘cares about customers,'” said Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer at
Landor, another WPP agency. “Although still a differentiator in many categories,
brand managers must remember that being seen as green is becoming a fundamental
attribute for all brands.”

The top 10 green brands, according to the survey, are:

  1. Burt’s Bees
  2. Whole Foods
  3. Tom’s of Maine
  4. Trader Joe’s
  5. Google
  6. Aveeno
  7. SC Johnson
  8. Publix
  9. Microsoft
  10. IKEA

Discussion Question: What type of efforts do you think are responsible
for landing these brands in the top 10? What companies/brands would make
your top 10 green list?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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14 Comments on "America’s Greenest Brands"

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David Biernbaum
11 years 11 months ago

In my opinion, Burt’s Bees is the company that stands out as the clear winner for staying true to delivering “green” brands. Their consumer base is evangelistic about the environment and Burt’s Bees goes through a tremendous amount of diligence and care to be sure that its products uphold its image. I know the company well and have worked with its management and R&D team and can assure you that Burt’s Bee’s is the real deal, and their loyal base of consumers know that they can trust this brand to deliver it’s image in a very real way.

David Livingston
11 years 11 months ago

It seems like retail publications are full of press releases of retailers that have done something “green” yet when you walk through their stores, the average consumer doesn’t see it. Companies that sell “green” products and equipment will often make up some kind of “award” giving them a certificate for the wall and a press release for doing something as simple as changing light bulbs. Often it’s something they would have done anyway to save money. The efforts of the listed companies are not so much being green but perceived to be green.

As retailers, its not important that they be “green.” Its important that they are only perceived to be green. Because the most important green is the green going into investors’ pockets.

Ben Sprecher
Ben Sprecher
11 years 11 months ago

Just because, “75 percent of consumers *say* [emphasis added] that it is…important to them that the brands they buy come from green companies,” doesn’t mean that 75 percent of customers actually *act* that way.

We have observed that relatively few shoppers actually buy a lot of all natural, “green”, or “eco” products. The trick for brands that truly want to differentiate themselves as “green companies” is to make sure the shoppers who actually buy green products know about them.

Companies like Method Products, 7th Generation, and Marcal make natural, eco-sensitive products, but they don’t appear on the Top 10 list. That’s not because they are less green than Microsoft or IKEA… it’s because they are less well known.

I’d be interested to see how Top 10 list would have looked if you surveyed consumers who were green buyers, not just green talkers.

Mark Burr
11 years 11 months ago
Like most surveys I assume there is a method to their madness. There’s always a motive. There is always a question with a desire to support results needed to further an endeavor of the research sponsor. Always. If not, there would be no motivation to survey. Cynical? Sure. It is Friday. In that light I’ll leave it as slightly cynical and refrain Scanner’s propensity for sarcasm on Friday. I have no ‘beef’ with green (Is there ‘green’ beef?). Yet, with my limited analytical skills, the results seem quite contradictory. It is Friday, and I might be missing something. The results indicate 75% see ‘green’ as somewhat important or very important. Yet, only 35% will buy more as a result in spite of that opinion and it is indicated that the 35% number is down from 2009. More interesting is that the researchers indicate that the result is related to the economy and they expect that to ‘come roaring back’ as the economy improves. They do? Really? There is certainly nothing stated to support that assumption.… Read more »
Jeff Hall
11 years 11 months ago

Of this list of ten companies, Burt’s Bees is the quintessential green brand.

From its inception, this company has oozed a deeply grounded, authentic vibe. Consumers feel an honest connection to Burt’s values, mission and the way it operates and in turn, become passionate, loyal repeat purchasers.

Ed Rosenbaum
11 years 11 months ago

Just because a survey says 75% of consumers prefer “green” does not mean 75% of buyers will buy “green.” We are still in a cost cutting and conscious mode. Green comes next. Once we get through all the trauma we are living through between the economy, Gulf oil spill and simply making a living again, we will be in a more “green” mood.

Tina Lahti
Tina Lahti
11 years 11 months ago

Consumer’s wallets are following the values, perhaps it’s just taking a while for the growth of these kind products to register. The list provided in the survey is a great example of missing the boat entirely. IKEA, I think of toxic MDF shipped all the way from China furniture, not very green. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, I can get more locally sourced food at Walmart. Other big companies, however, are right on target. I think of Burt’s Bees (Clorox), Cascadian farms (General Mills), Kashi (Kellogg), and Horizon Organic (Deans) as examples of successful green brands owned by large companies who do get it and are positioned to take advantage of changing consumer values.

Mark Baum
Mark Baum
11 years 11 months ago

So, Microsoft makes the list, and Patagonia–a pioneering and quintessential Green Brand (with all due respect to the Burt’s Bees devotees) does not??!! Who did they survey; a bunch of cubicle-bound denizens, who have not actually spent any time “in the environment”?

James Tenser
11 years 11 months ago

I do not like green claims and spam.
I do not like them with a fox.
I do not like them on your box.
I do not like them on a pallet.
I hate it when they drain my wallet
Not on your truck
Not in my car
Not when you ship stuff near and far
Green marketing is just a dream
Your carbon footprint makes me scream
I do not like green claims and spam
I do not like them, Green I Am

Gene Detroyer
11 years 11 months ago

We know this is a current survey, otherwise BP would have been in the top ten. This is a list of “green” perception, not “green” reality. But that tells us what “green” has become. It has become a marketing play or should I say “ploy.” The management directive is how green can we claim to be without changing anything.

There is a huge difference between a company that markets “green” and a company that exists green. Those consumers who really practice eco-friendly living know what the green products/companies are. Oh, and those consumers weren’t part of this survey.

Al McClain
Al McClain
11 years 11 months ago

It’s great PR to be perceived as green but most important to back it up. BP had great marketing and PR promoting their green activities but has tossed it all away with one shortcut. Consumers may be thinking only of their wallets for the moment but as the planet gets more polluted and overpopulated, retailers, brands, and consumers will be forced to be green.

Doug Fleener
11 years 11 months ago

I agree with Al. All retailers are going to need to be green so you might as well embrace and leverage it now.

What I don’t get is how companies don’t do the smallest things. Here’s an example. I spend a lot of nights in hotel rooms but less than 5% have recycle bins in the hotel room. (And those are probably in California.)

Would I spend more to stay there? Of course not. Would it make me think more favorable of the brand and choose it over another. Of course.

There’s just no reason not to do the basics of being green.

Paul Hepperla
Paul Hepperla
11 years 11 months ago

I think it’s interesting how public sentiment is, or can be, so disconnected from the reality of disclosure, data, and transparency. It speaks to the impact of BRAND and cultural aspects defining “green.”

In many respects, Wal-Mart has taken great effort to be a very “green” company yet their cultural aspects and BRAND doesn’t speak to green.

So, this list provides insight to the brand and culture MUCH MORE than actual data, disclosure and results.

John Crossman
John Crossman
11 years 11 months ago

Publix makes it very easy for their customers to be more green without costing any more money. It can be as simple as using their grocery bags instead of paper or plastic. Customer- and environmentally-friendly.


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