constitutes a truly green brand or company. They also find that, from a consumer's point of view, a product's environmental record ranks well below attributes such as price, quality, and past experience with the brand. However, environmental image is the only factor in brand choice, besides price, that has shown significant growth in the recent years. They also find a drop in the willingness of customers to pay a premium for environmentally preferable product. Several studies show a consistent pattern over time. In 1988, when asked if one 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. Two years later, in 1990, fewer accepted the same premise, with 65 percent of Americans, 59 percent of Germans, and only 31 percent of Japanese willing to sacrifice standard of living for a cleaner environment.
These trends present companies with the challenge of providing environmental quality as an added value to customers at little or no additional cost. Yet, there is growing evidence that simple waste reduction and energy-efficiency improvements can reduce costs, primarily by reducing the use of raw materials. Furthermore, environmental requirements that apply to products can have more complex financial and design trade-offs. But not making those trade-offs in good design and management can be more costly. For example, reuse or recycling can be very expensive for products that have not been designed with these requirements in mind. Collection and disassembly can be costly, and the resulting materials may have little or no recoverable value. On the one hand, products that are appropriately designed may be inexpensive to disassemble and may yield parts or materials with high recoverable value. In terms of revenue, products that are not designed with environmental requirements in mind can have disappointing sales for a variety of reasons, including that failure to address specific requirements may prevent their sale in a particular country or may preclude their consideration for specific bidding opportunities. On the other hand, products designed to meet environmental requirements may be able to increase company revenues by assuring worldwide acceptance or by taking market share away from competitors who are less able to respond to changing requirements.
Understanding what the public knows and thinks about specific environmental issues is important in those instances where environmental improvements are forged through public debate, particularly when changing public policy or public behavior is necessary. Unlike surveys that are used to determine customer values, the "mental model" method (Morgan, this volume) can be used to get a better sense of what the public knows and thinks about a particular issue. The method gives participants no "clues" from which to form their responses, which is a problem with traditional surveys of public attitudes. Morgan argues that one gets a