Green Building 101: Where Is The Market For Green?

June 19, 2011

Developed countries, such as the United States, would seem to have the most to gain from green technology and products. We produce the most greenhouse gases and garbage, so it would stand to reason that reducing these would have a greater impact on our environment. However, some of the biggest markets for green products are in developing countries, where the technology is being embraced to improve the standard of living without increasing the environmental impact.

The annual ImagePower Global Green Brands Study, one of the largest global consumer surveys of green brands and corporate environmental responsibility, polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries, and revealed that consumers worldwide intend to purchase more environmental products in the auto, energy and technology sectors this year when compared to last year.

According to the survey, more than 60 percent of consumers globally want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. Respondents in all eight countries surveyed indicate that they are willing to spend more on green products. In developed countries such as the US and the UK, roughly 20 percent of those surveyed would spend more than 10 percent extra on a green product. In developing countries, however, consumers say that green products have a higher inherent value. Ninety-five percent of Chinese consumers say they are willing to spend more than 10 percent extra on a product because it’s green. Similarly 29 percent of Indian consumers and 48 percent of Brazilians say they are willing to spend more than 10 percent extra on green products.

“Consumers in developing countries express greater concern over the state of the environment in their countries, which may contribute to their greater willingness to pay more for green products,” said Paul Andrepont, Senior Vice President of Penn Schoen Berland, a communication strategy consulting firm. “Consumers in these markets also differ from their developed-nation counterparts in believing that selection, rather than cost, is the greatest barrier to buying green products. Brands that address these consumers’ very real concern – over air pollution in India or deforestation in Brazil – have the ability to position themselves as premium in the market, a possible competitive advantage.”

US consumers indicate that they intend to spend more money on green technology, energy and automotive products or services in the next year. When it comes to current usage of green products or services, the 2011 study reveals that the household products and grocery categories have the highest consumer adoption rates in all countries except China, where packaged goods/beverages and personal care are the most used categories, and in Brazil, where household products and personal care dominate. In all countries, consumers indicate that in the coming year they are less likely to buy green packaged goods and beverages, grocery and household products.

Russ Meyer, Chief Strategy Officer of Landor Associates, believes that “consumers have a good understanding of how green choices in personal care, food and household products directly affect their families, and they are now seeing benefits like costs savings that attract them to higher cost items like cars and technology.”

The ten brands that are perceived to be the greenest in the US, according to this recent study, are:

  1. Seventh Generation
  2. Whole Foods
  3. Tom’s of Maine
  4. Burt’s Bees
  5. Trader Joe’s
  6. The Walt Disney Company
  7. S.C. Johnson
  8. Dove
  9. Apple
  10. Starbucks, Microsoft (tied)

For the first time since the survey started in 2006, the top four brands are ones that were “born green.”

The seventh annual Green Brands study polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries —including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Brazil, India, Germany, France and Australia—and was conducted by Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland Associates, as well as independent sustainability strategy consulting firm Esty Environmental Partners. The Green Brands Study identifies emerging trends related to consumer perception and purchasing behavior of “green” products. The study was conducted online among the general adult population between April 2, 2011 and May 3, 2011. 

Source: PR Newswire.

Photo courtesy of Andreas Demmelbauer.



Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.