Cynicism about "green" marketing and perceived expense associated with
environmental products present barriers for Canadians
TORONTO, July 28 /CNW/ - While 80 per cent of Canadians consider the
environmental impact of their purchasing decisions, the majority of consumers
believe that environmental claims are often just marketing ploys, according to
Bensimon Byrne's Consumerology Report, released this week.
The national survey, commissioned by the Toronto-based advertising agency
and conducted by Gandalf Group of 1500 Canadians, revealed that cost was the
primary barrier of adopting more environmentally friendly practices among
consumers, as green products are overwhelmingly seen to be more expensive than
regular products. And while they are perceived as more costly, two-thirds of
Canadians simply don't believe that it costs more to produce them. However,
the concern about cost does not correlate with income level but with the level
of commitment each individual is willing to make to the environment.
"Canadians are eager to make choices that will benefit the environment.
But cost, cynicism and confusion about green marketing efforts are prohibiting
them from making those choices," said Jack Bensimon, President of Bensimon
Byrne. "The research suggests a significant opportunity for companies who are
seen to be legitimate green leaders and can offer conventional pricing of
environmentally friendly products."
The survey further revealed that the majority of Canadians (85%) want
government enforced standards for 'environmentally friendly' products as well
as labeling that certifies and explains such terms as green, organic, low
emissions, etc. Not surprisingly, consumers view the companies who produce
green products as the least trusted source for information about the
environmental impacts of their products.
Among other interesting findings, the survey showed that women are
significantly more likely (88%) to consider environmental impact while making
purchasing decisions over men (71%), which has major implications for company
"The survey challenges the conventional wisdom that youth are the
predominant target for environmental marketing and found that women are most
responsive," said Bensimon. "As a result, companies should be more targeted in
their environmental communication and focus on the female audience."
In addition, specific environmental issues were found to have more
resonance with consumers than the "environment" as a category. Canadians place
a higher level of personal importance on issues such as keeping fresh water
clean, reducing excess waste, and reducing air pollution and smog than they do
on more abstract issues like global warming and climate change.
Recycling is the clear leader among actions Canadians would take to
benefit the environment. It is considered a credible action and one that
requires little sacrifice. This stands in contrast to purchasing energy
efficient appliances. While 93 per cent of Canadians say using energy
efficient appliances would most benefit the environment, only 38 per cent
would consider taking the action because of the perceived sacrifice - the
The most visible and persuasive initiative a corporation could adopt is
to use less packaging, followed by using renewable energy sources for
production such as solar and wind, reducing energy use by turning down lights,
heat and A/C and using recycled parts for production.
The following are highlights from the Consumerology Report:
- 83 per cent of Canadians say they are motivated to make personal
changes that would benefit the environment.
- Yet only 39% of Canadians say they are very (6%) or somewhat
financially able to make personal changes that would benefit the
- 80 per cent of Canadians say they consider the environmental impact
when they make a purchase decision
- 88 per cent of women say they consider the environmental impact when
they make a purchase decision versus 71 per cent of men.
- 75 per cent of Canadians believe that environmental claims are often
just marketing ploys.
- 65 per cent of Canadians say the term 'green' has been used so
much that it doesn't have much meaning for them anymore when a
company claims it.
- 85 per cent of Canadians want standards enforced on producers and
labeling that certifies and explains terms such as organic, low
emissions, and green (86 per cent of Canadians want regulation and
labeling to clear up the confusion over environmental claims)
- 65 per cent of Canadians say they don't understand why it's more
expensive to purchase environmentally friendly products.
- 65 per cent of Canadians also believe that it doesn't cost more to
produce environmentally friendly products but that companies claim a
product is green so they can charge more.
- Regionally, Quebecers have a higher level of concern for the
environment and are more motivated to make changes in their lives
than the rest of the country and are the most likely to say they are
financially able (46%).
- Less than one-third of Atlantic Canadians say they are financially
able to make personal changes to benefit the environment.
About the Survey
The Consumerology Report survey was conducted by the Gandalf Group
amongst 1500 Canadians. The questionnaire was conducted in French and English
between June 26 and July 9. Results are accurate to +/-2.3% 19 times out of
20. To see the full results of the Consumerology report please visit:
About Bensimon Byrne
Bensimon Byrne is a privately owned, full-service, Canadian advertising
agency. Established in 1993, the agency has worked with a host of blue-chip
companies and brands, producing some of Canada's most effective and memorable
For further information:
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