TABLE 2 Where Green Counts: Importance of Environment in Brand Selection, Selected Products, Ranked by Category Index, 1993


Product Category



Lawn and garden products



Household cleaning products



Paper products






Personal-care products






Fast-food restaurants


a Average index=100.

SOURCE: Roper Organization, 1993.

affect brand choice. Categories that can be argued to have a much greater cumulative impact on the environment, such as cars and fast-food restaurants, were ranked last because of the American public's unwillingness to sacrifice independence and time savings (Table 2). Environmental considerations are most important in products where the effect on the environment is easy to see.

The ultimate measure of environment commitment is consumers' willingness to pay green taxes or a green premium on an ecologically safe product. Several studies show a consistent pattern over time. In 1988, when people surveyed were asked whether they would accept "a less good standard of living but with much less health risk," 84 percent agreed in the United States, 69 percent in Germany, and 64 percent in Japan (Louis Harris and Associates, 1988). Four years later, when asked about their willingness to pay, respondents showed a similar pattern, with 65 percent of Americans, 59 percent of Germans, but only 31 percent of Japanese in favor (Gallup, 1992).

Consumer Awareness: Variations in the Triad

For multinational companies, between-region variations in green IQ may be more challenging than within-country variations. Americans' perceptions that they are inadequately educated about the environment is confirmed by several measures. As a follow-up to the 1990 study, in late 1991 Roper released a survey testing a nationwide cross section of nearly 2,000 adults on their "green point average." Faced with 10 questions on topics ranging global warming to biodegradable plastic, Americans received an average of only 33 of a possible 100 points. "A low score by any standard," concluded Roper. Education and income did not help; college graduates as well as upscale Americans earned average scores of only 40 points.

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