Consumers Take Responsibility For "Green" Actions But Aren't Following Through, According To Latest Cone Communications

    Consumers Take Responsibility For "Green" Actions But Aren't Following
          Through, According To Latest Cone Communications Research

Facing resource and knowledge barriers, Americans look to companies for help

PR Newswire

BOSTON, April 2, 2013

BOSTON, April 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Earth Day may be just around the corner,
but consumers are buying with an eye toward "green" all year long. A
record-high 71 percent of Americans consider the environment when they shop,
up from 66 percent in 2008. Additionally, nearly half (45%) of consumers
actively seek out environmental information about the products they buy,
according to the five-year benchmark of the 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap
Trend Tracker.

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Even as "green" becomes increasingly top of mind, Americans still struggle
with their role in the lifecycle of products with an environmental benefit.
Nine-in-10 said they believe it's their responsibility to properly use and
dispose of these products, but action isn't aligning with intent:

  oOnly 30% say they often use products in a way that achieves the intended
    environmental benefit
  o42% say they dispose of products in a way that fulfills the intended
    environmental benefit

Despite the lack of consistent follow-through, consumers are showing an
inclination to learn more. Americans report they regularly read and follow
instructions on how to properly use (71%) or dispose (66%) of a product.
Forty-one percent said they perform additional research to determine how best
to utilize and discard a product for maximum benefit.

Nearly all respondents (85%) want companies to educate them on how to properly
use and dispose of products. But they identify significant barriers to doing
so, as well. One-third of consumers (33%) cited not having the adequate
resources, such as disposal bins and community access, as the primary reason
for not disposing or using products as intended, while 20 percent stated they
simply do not know how to do so.

Consumer understanding of environmental messages also presents an obstacle.
Although more than 60 percent of respondents say they understand the
environmental terms companies use in their advertising, the majority continue
to erroneously believe common expressions such as "green" or "environmentally
friendly" mean a product has a positive (40%) or neutral (22%) impact on the
environment. Fewer were able to correctly identify these terms as meaning the
product has a lighter impact than other similar products (22%) or less than it
used to (2%). Despite the attention given to product development and
environmental marketing, consumer misunderstanding of "green" claims has
remained flat at around 60 percent since 2008.

"The new green gap is about consumers only taking the idea of responsibility
so far, despite feeling responsible for proper use and disposal," says Liz
Gorman, Cone Communications' senior vice president of Sustainable Business
Practices. "They're buying with the environment in mind, but they rely on
companies to provide access and education to truly 'close the loop.'"

Almost three-quarters (71%) of consumers wish companies would do a better job
helping them understand environmental terms. Although they feel overwhelmed by
the volume of messages in the marketplace, consumers prioritize authenticity
over perfection and will punish companies if they feel misled:

  o48% percent say they are overwhelmed by environmental messages
  o69% say it's okay if a company is not environmentally perfect as long as
    it is honest
  o78% say they will boycott a product if they discover an environmental
    claim to be misleading

When it comes to finding those environmental messages, consumers are primarily
looking on the product itself, signaling prime real estate for companies
looking to communicate important environmental information:

  o45% say they are most likely to use on-pack resources for information
    about how to properly use and dispose of environmental products
  o26% say they are most likely to use an online search

"Consumers are ready to follow through on the intended use or disposal of
environmentally preferred products, but they need companies' help," Gorman
explains. "This is the next evolution of environmental marketing. Clear and
candid communication can ensure consumers understand the important role they
play in minimizing the impacts associated with the product's lifecycle."

About the Research
The 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker presents the findings of
an online survey conducted March 7-10, 2013 by ORC International among a
demographically representative sample of 1,068 adults, comprising 552 men and
516 women 18 years of age and older. The margin of error associated with a
sample of this size is+/- 3% at a 95% level of confidence. Some figures may
not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.

About Cone Communications
Cone Communications ( is a public relations and marketing
agency known for igniting brands with high-impact strategies and programs
based in deep insights, unique subject matter expertise and innovation.
Focusing on key areas such as consumer product media relations, social media,
cause branding and marketing, corporate social responsibility, nonprofit
marketing, corporate communications and crisis prevention/management – the
agency is positioned to help clients achieve both business and societal
outcomes. Cone Communications is a part of Diversified Agency Services, a
division of Omnicom Group Inc.

About Diversified Agency Services
Diversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:
OMC) (, manages Omnicom's holdings in a variety of
marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200 companies, which
operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving
international and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.

About Omnicom Group Inc.
Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) ( is a leading global
marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom's branded networks and
numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and
buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing,
public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000
clients in more than 100 countries.

SOURCE Cone Communications, Inc.

Contact: Whitney Dailey, Cone Communications,,
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