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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : April 12, 2012

Are consumers buying your green claims? Probably not.

New research from Cone Communications reveals that purchase decisions are becoming more and more influenced by a company's social and green claims, but woe betide those who don't uphold those claims.

by Helen Leggatt

Late last year, research from Cone Communications found that the vast majority (94%) of consumers would swap their usual brand for another that supported a local cause, assuming the price and quality were comparable.

The trend is on the rise - 62% claimed to have purchased a product that supports a cause during 2011, up from 49% the year before. In fact, Cone Communications say this purchase behavior is at an all time high since they began monitoring 18 years ago.

"Over the years, consumers have been increasingly expecting companies to support social causes," said Craig Bida, executive vice president of cause branding and non-profit marketing. "Now we're seeing Americans demand companies address issues by speaking with their wallets."

New research from Cone Communications reveals that, as well as social causes, American consumers remains concerned about the environmental impact of the products they buy.

In addition, many are skeptical about whether companies really are addressing all of their environmental impacts and only 44% trust companies' claims of being green.

Misleading consumers is dangerous. Over three-quarters of those surveyed by Cone said they would boycott a product or brand if they were misled, according to the 2012 Cone Green Gap Trend Tracker.

Consumers expect companies to address their environmental impact throughout a product's lifecycle from manufacturing, use and disposal. However, it is the "end-of-life" messaging that is most influential; 42% say they are most influenced by the environmental impact of a product's disposal.

"The emphasis on disposal is not surprising considering it's an area in which consumers feel they have a responsibility and have control over what they do with products after use," said Jonathan Yohannan, Cone Communications' executive vice president of corporate responsibility.

"However, what most consumers don't know is that for many product categories, disposal may represent the least significant aspect of a product's impact. There's an opportunity for companies to reframe the discussion and educate consumers about what they're doing to reduce a product's impacts across the supply chain."

Tags: brand marketing, brand messaging, buying behavior, consumer insight, environmentally friendly, green marketing

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