Consumers See Clorox, Wal-Mart, as Greenest Companies: Study

Clorox and Wal-Mart are top-of-mind when consumers think of green companies -- ranking far beyond even such Earth-friendly companies as Whole Foods Market, according to a new monthly tracking service from Oakland, Calif.-based Greener World Media.

The Green Confidence Index, launched yesterday, is a monthly snapshot of Americans’ attitudes about, and confidence in, their leaders and institutions, nationally and locally, on the subject of environmental responsibility, as well as their own understanding of issues and their willingness to make green purchasing choices.

The Index is a partnership of three business information services companies:, part of Greener World Media, which also produces research reports and events on the greening of mainstream business; Earthsense, a Syracuse, N.Y.-based applied marketing company that produces Eco-Insights, the largest syndicated survey of U.S. consumers’ attitudes and behaviors toward the environment and sustainability.; and Shelton, Conn.-based Survey Sampling International, the world’s largest provider of multi-mode survey research sampling solutions.

In addition to the regular monthly tracking of attitudes and habits, the Green Confidence Index tracks Americans’ perceptions of companies. Each month it asks, “What company, if any, do you think of as being ‘green’?” This is an unaided question, meaning no list is provided. Respondents simply name companies that are top of mind. Clorox and Wal-Mart garnered the most mentions, followed by (alphabetically) General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Toyota and Whole Foods, according to the study. In all, more than 300 companies received at least one mention.

The index is based on a monthly survey of more than 2,500 adults who are nationally representative of the U.S. adult online population. It’s calculated using responses in three areas:

--Responsibility: how leaders and institutions are perceived to be addressing environmental issues (weight: 40 percent)
--Information: the adequacy of information available to make informed decisions (20 percent)
--Purchasing: past and future purchases of green products (40 percent)

“Americans’ attitudes about how they view environmental problems and solutions are complex and dynamic,” says Joel Makower, executive editor of and chairman of Greener World Media. “For years, periodic surveys have tried to capture snapshots of those attitudes. By surveying monthly, the Green Confidence Index will reveal real-time shifts and nuances marketers don’t usually see.”

The index was set in July 2009 at 100. Today’s release includes results from the first three months of survey results, through September 2009, when the composite index stood at 103.8.

“Manufacturers and retailers are increasingly aware of ‘the green gap,’ where consumers’ behaviors and purchases often lag behind intentions, due in part to marketplace confusion about what makes products green,” said Earthsense chief research officer Amy Hebard. “As better information and clearer standards evolve, the Green Confidence Index will be a valuable monitor of progress in communications and how this translates into buying decisions.”

Another question asked Americans about the environmental information they use and trust is when they need information about environmental issues to guide decisions about shopping, investing, and voting. Americans responded that they had little use for corporate blogs and Web sites, which were also deemed the least trustworthy source of information. Friends, relatives and colleagues were the highest-rated sources, with consumer ratings and reviews the second most-trusted source.

The Green Confidence Index is a subscription-based service. Top-level results of each month’s survey are published for public consumption by and distributed through news releases. More comprehensive data are available by subscription, including a monthly briefing document and a quarterly report spotlighting select trends and demographics. Annual subscriptions are $499, with charter subscriptions available at $299 through Dec. 31, 2009.

More information, plus a sample copy of the monthly briefing can be downloaded at ( is an online resource on the greening of mainstream business, and the flagship Web site of Greener World Media (, a media and business information services company. GWM also produces,,, and, as well as the annual “State of Green Business” report, the “Green Building Market and Impact” report, the State of GreenBiz Forum, and the GreenBiz Executive Network, a peer-to-peer learning forum for senior sustainability officers at multinational companies.
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