Supermarkets come top for green values says new poll
The UK's leading supermarkets are overwhelmingly the 'greenest' brands in the UK, according to new research revealed today from WPP's Landor Associates, Cohn & Wolfe and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB).
The 2008 ImagePower® Green Brands survey, which polled over 1,500 UK adults in April, was dominated by the country’s top grocers, who occupied five of the top six places in this year’s league table.
For the second year running, The Body Shop came out as the number one green brand overall. This year it was followed by Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda.
The rest of the top 10 is occupied by Dove, Google, the Co-operative bank and utility giant E.ON.
Phil Gandy, senior consultant at Landor, said: The British public have clearly responded positively to initiatives such as Marks & Spencer’s widely publicised Plan A campaign and most recently its move to charge for plastic bags. Companies and brands that aspire to be green need to find ways to connect with consumers and stakeholders in similarly direct ways. Brands that focus and deliver on simple, tangible initiatives in easily understood branded wrappers will gain the greatest traction.
The popularity of supermarket initiatives reflects a key finding of the 2008 survey: that a practical focus on reducing waste and recycling has now replaced the ‘big picture’ of climate change as the top environmental concern of the British people.
When asked to name the ‘most important green issue or problem today’, 24% said ‘waste generated by individuals or corporations’, up from 11% last year. But engagement with the abstract issues fell dramatically. In 2007, climate change and global warming were rated top green issues by 40% of respondents. This year, these ranked as the top concern for only 15% of Britons.
Geoff Beattie, leader of Cohn & Wolfe’s global Sustainability Practice, said: There is a lesson here for governments and other brands and businesses who want to educate the public on threats like climate change, which can be perceived as abstract and not relevant to everyday lives. The reason the supermarkets have done so well in our survey is that they are able to talk to people about the environment in concrete terms that they can understand and relate to.
The British public appears pessimistic about the environment, with 53% believing the UK is ‘on the wrong track’, and only 34% agreeing that the country is ‘heading in the right direction’.
Private industry and Government combined are seen as most to blame for creating environmental problems. However, an increasing number of people in the UK are assuming personal responsibility and looking forward, one in five say industry should be responsible for initiating environmental change. The research also found:
- A massive 94% of Britons think products – especially their food purchases and groceries – are over packaged.
- In an effort to reduce waste, half of them are choosing products that use less packaging or recycled packaging.
- 6 out of 10 say they now avoid plastic bags when shopping for groceries.
- 75% of consumers say that environmental buzzwords including ‘recyclable’, ‘renewable’ and ‘sustainable’ will have a strong impact on their intent to buy.
- One in three consumers is willing to spend more on green products.
The survey reveals a preoccupation with the state of the economy – with almost two thirds of the public (65%) rating the economy their prime concern. Despite these concerns, British consumers’ desire to make an environmental contribution remains strong: 80% plan to spend as much or more on green products and services this year as they did last.
Perhaps because of its increasingly visible product waste and recycling issues, it was the mobile phone category which fared the worst in the survey – with seven leading brands in the bottom 10 of the rankings.
Travel – and particularly airline travel, with its now well-known issues on carbon emission – is the second-worst rated category.
Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Inc. conducted 1546 online interviews among UK citizens between April 17 and April 20, 2008. The margin of error for the sample is +/- 2.49%. Respondents were screened to include only individuals aged 18 and over and respondents rated only those brands with which they were familiar.
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