Whole Foods Market is the top green brand according to the 2012 Green Brands Survey, conducted by Landor Associates, a brand consulting and design firm, and Penn Schoen Berland, a research and communication firm.
The retailer led the list based purely on consumer perceptions. Other top 10 brands are: Waste Management, Johnson & Johnson, St. Jude Medical, Walt Disney, Google, General Electric, Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool.
The brands were measured across a wide array of general and environmental attributes, including “strong brand,” high quality,” “good value,” “is a green company,” “is an environmental leader,” and “has environmentally friendly products.” Consumers also provided insight into their green purchasing habits and their perception of brand packaging and the impact of green advertising.
In a marketplace where claims of “green” and organic products have become common, the threat of being labeled a “greenwasher” looms. As a consequence, brands are challenged with delivering both practice and communication.
The results of the study measures consumer perceptions of green brands and corporate environmental sustainability practices. The results of this year’s survey were used to produce a reputation score for each company.
By comparing each firm’s reputation score with its “Newsweek” Green Score (the overall score from the Newsweek Green Rankings survey), PSB, Landor, and “Newsweek” magazine uncovered four brand segments.
Unsung heroes are brands with strong green practices, but little public awareness; free passers (brands with limited green practices, but strong brand halos that drive their green reputation); the losers (brands with limited green practices that are publicly recognized for these limitations) and the winners (brands with strong green practices that are publicly acknowledged for it).
“The four distinct brand segments we uncovered give valuable insight into the connection, or lack thereof, between brand behaviors and consumer perceptions,” said Alex Braun, vice presisent of Penn Schoen Berland. “We know that brands can no longer act in quiet isolation, which is why gauging how consumers perceive their initiatives is so important.”
Unsung heroes include Citigroup, Nokia, Fujitsu, HSBC, Sprint Nextel, Bank of America, Rolls-Royce and BMW. Free passsers were Tyson Foods, Waste Management, Loews, Energizer Holdings, Chipotle Mexican Grill, J.M. Smucker, Wynn Resorts and Murphy Oil.
The losers were Monsanto, Ameriprise Financial, Philip Morris International, Halliburton, Charles Schwab, Coach, Exxon Mobil and Public Storage. The winners were International Business Machines (IBM), NVIDIA, Intel, Microsoft, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Office Depot and Staples.
The reputation score is based on the 2012 ImagePowerGreen Brands Survey, which was conducted as an online poll of 8,743 Americans 18 and older. The data were weight
ed to ensure a representative sample of the U.S. population. The study has an overall margin of error of +/-1.05%.
Each respondent was randomly assigned a selection of 13-15 major brands with which they stated they were familiar, on questions pertaining to qualities of the brand and its "green" behavior. Data were collected about the largest 215 U.S. consumer-facing brands and 36 major foreign consumer brands. The reputation score was calculated based on these responses.
While interest in "green" across categories will only grow in the years ahead, this survey illustrates how much confusion still remains in the public mindset as to who and what qualifies as a green brand, said Hayes Roth, chief marketing officer of Landor Associates.