Congratulations, you celebrated Earth Day! But it’s the follow-through that’s going to pay off. @BrandKeysNY
It’s the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, and — like many Earth Days before it — brands have been out in force trumpeting their environmental initiatives and green policies.
Companies ranging from Verizon Wireless, Kroger, and Lands’ End to White Castle, Virgin Airways, Pilot Pens and Budweiser were issuing press releases highlighting their green initiatives, materials, products and packaging on Wednesday, April 22. (Be assured, there were many, many more; that list comes from a perfunctory PR Newswire search.)
In the Information Age, however, it’s the follow-through that matters most. Trumpeting one’s “greenness” one day a year isn’t enough for consumers, and pretty soon, not having a clear environmental program could be a key factor when they make brand choices.
“[Companies] actually have to be doing something about addressing the problems that consumers want addressed,” Robert Passikoff, president of research and loyalty engagement firm Brand Keys, tells Marketing Daily. “There are all kinds of tests consumers can put these companies through.”
Among the 550 brands on Brand Keys’ Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, Passikoff highlighted the top 50 brands that consumers deemed authentically “green.” Some of the brands on the list are to be expected (Chipotle, Burt’s Bees, Whole-Foods), but others (Wal-Mart, Coke) seem a bit more surprising. But they all are pro-active when it comes to creating and promoting green initiatives, Passikoff says. (Wal-Mart, he notes, has created electric car-charging spaces in many parking lots, he notes.)
“They don’t just talk the talk,” Passikoff says of the top 50 brands. “They all are doing something, whether it’s in manufacturing or materials, where they’re trying to maintain the balance of [sales] and environmental responsibility.”
Passikoff highlighted the brands in alphabetical order (listed below), owing to different consumer expectations for different categories. “On the one hand, it can be as simple as a fast-food chain eliminating styrofoam,” he says. “For a tech company, it has to do with manufacturing and materials.”
Regardless, environmental issues are becoming a bigger, more imperative concern for consumers, as climate change, renewable energy and conservation become everyday issues, Passikoff says. He estimates environmental practices will be a top concern for consumers within five years.
“This is something that’s becoming a rationale and differentiator for brands,” Passikoff says. “Any foot-dragging is going to be on the side of the brand, not the consumers.”
Here are the top 50 brand with the greenest perception (in alphabetical order), according to Brand Keys’ Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index:
Le Pain Quotidian
Tom’s of Maine