Europeans support green products but are not sure about manufacturer claims

A new report on European public attitudes towards green products provides useful guidance on the directions that manufacturers and brandowners should be taking to expand this market. We must note that European public attitudes do not necessarily reflect North American public attitudes though European environmental trends sometimes cross the Atlantic.

Among the main findings:

  • A majority of respondents (54%) consider themselves “occasional” consumers of environmentally friendly products.
  • More than a quarter of respondents (26%) often buy environmentally-friendly products (26%).
  • A majority of citizens (55%) in the EU agree that green products are good value for money.
  • Respondents who often buy environmentally-friendly products are much more likely to agree that environmentally-friendly products are good value for money compared to those who only sometimes buy these products (68% and 53%, respectively). This is the only aspect where these two categories really differ, which suggests that lowering the price gap between green and non-green alternatives would enlarge the number of regular consumers.
  • Large majorities of EU citizens believe that buying environmentally-friendly products can make a difference to the environment (89%) and that environmentally-friendly products are as effective as regular products (74%).
  • There is strong agreement across the EU about the ethics of environmentally friendly products: 95% of respondents agree that using environmentally products is ‘the right thing to do’, 91% agree that buying environmentally-friendly products sets a good example and 80% agree that their family and friends would think it was a good thing if they used environmentally-friendly products.
  • Only just over half of EU citizens think that environmentally-friendly products are easily available in shops (54%) and a similar proportion believe that it is easy to differentiate environmentally-friendly products from other products (51%).
  • Two-thirds of EU citizens (66%) are confident that products indicated as environmentally-friendly will cause less damage to the environment than other products.
  • More than three-quarters of respondents are willing to pay more for  environmentally friendly products if they were confident that the products are truly environmentally-friendly (77%).
  • EU citizens take several considerations into account when buying products. The quality of the product is the most important consideration for consumers (97%) followed by the product’s price (87%) and its environmental impact (84%). The least important factor to consumers is the brand name of the product (46%). There has been a significant increase in the number of respondents who say that the environmental impact is more important than price in a purchasing decision since 2009 (25%, + 6 points).
  • EU citizens believe the actions that would have the greatest impact on solving environmental problems are recycling and minimizing waste (54%) and buying low energy consumption home appliances (39%).
  • Only just over half of EU citizens generally trust producers’ claims about the environmental performance of their products (52%). This represents a small increase in trust since the previous survey in 2009 (+3).
  • A majority of EU citizens do not trust companies’ reports on their own  environmental performance (54%), with only 44% trusting these reports.
  • There is strong support among EU citizens for obliging companies to publish reports on their overall environmental performance and the environmental performance of their products. (69%).

A press release announcing the report is available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-653_en.htm

The full 114 page report is available at http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_367_en.pdf

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