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Cohn & Wolfe’s Annie Longsworth On Green Brand Leadership

Bill Roth | Monday August 8th, 2011 | 0 Comments

A Green Economic Revolution is accelerating among American consumers. No less than 73% of now say “it is important to buy from green companies.”

This is one of many new findings from the recent Cohn & Wolfe 2011 consumer perception survey.

The survey is one of the year’s most important studies on how consumers perceive “green.” To cut to the chase – here’s the icing on the cake for companies seeking revenue growth: Consumers now EXPECT to see green product offerings. They are seeking green products aligned with their search for products that are:

  • Responsible
  • Reliable
  • High quality
  • Trustworthy
  • Sold by companies that care about their customers

This year’s branding winners fall into two categories: “Born Green” and “Green Leader.”

Born Green brands are products that, in the eyes of the consumer, were created to be green solutions. Consumers identified these four leadership brands as Born Green:

  1. Seventh Generation
  2. Whole Foods Market
  3. Tom’s of Maine
  4. Burt’s Bees.

The next level of green branding success is Brand Leader. These are brands that have built creditability with consumers by offering a superior sustainability benefit. For example, consumers consider Apple to be a Green Brand Leader because of superior product designs that enable the consumer to more successfully shift from molecules to digital based behaviors that consumers think of as being “greener.” Here’s the list of the top Brand Leaders based on the Cohn & Wolfe study:

  1. Walt Disney
  2. SC Johnson
  3. Dove
  4. Apple
  5. MicroSoft, Starbucks (tie).

A second theme begs the question – What is driving the consumer to buy green products?

One major factor is that the cost of “unsustainable” goods and services are going up in price. Saving money is now a major driver to buying green!

The second major factor is increasing belief among consumers that their safety and that of their loved ones is at risk from unhealthy or unsustainable products. Setting a three year low, only 31% of consumers see the environment as being “on the right track.”

The result is that consumers are looking for “in me, on me and around me solutions” to their budgets and their well being. This is now pushing consumer purchases from beachhead items like green cleaning products toward the purchase of bigger ticket items in the technology and automobile industries.

Price is the final step toward mass consumer purchasing of green brands. Consumers want green product value to align with their wallets. 62% of consumers see cost as their biggest barrier to buying a green product.

In  the following exclusive interview with Annie Longsworth, Practice Leader on sustainability marketing and branding for Cohn & Wolfe, Annie outlines further insights on how consumers’ perceptions of green brands and the growing opportunity this creates for business revenue growth:

Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017, a company connecting businesses with customers seeking smart, healthy and green solutions. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles businesses making money going green. Bill is implementing a pioneering outreach program called Green Builds Business created by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation with funding from Walmart.


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