Thursday, October 04, 2007

Frog-eyed Hippies Get Green Make Over

Consumers are hopping on the green bandwagon. The 2007 ImagePower Green Brands Survey shows a shift in thinking. No longer is green marginalized to fanatical environmentalists, and nearly all Americans display green attitudes and behaviors according to the research. Especially appealing are green products that are relatively simple to implement like appliance upgrades.

Respondents said green brands are often seen as better quality, though at a higher cost.

The survey also categorized participants’ levels of involvement into shades of green, or green attitudes. The result of this segmentation is that all Americans exhibit some sort of green attitudes and behaviors.

Here is where I deviate from a rehashing of press releases about this research. I read more than one press release and am curious about some of the terminology applied to the categories of respondents, and why between May 1 and September 27, there has been an apparent shift in what to call these folks (if there hasn’t and I’m wrong, I’m sure some PR person will write and correct me). For example, in the most recent release, mention is made of five “green attitudes,” which range from “Bright Green” to “Dull Green,” with each category exhibiting certain characteristics. From the September 27, 2007, press release from public relations firm Cohn & Wolfe, strategic brand and design firm Landor Associates, and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (Mark Penn is chief strategist to Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign):

Dull Green respondents, for example, who are characterized by making a minimum effort to support environmental change, prioritize crime reduction, religious organizations and healthcare as their main causes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the majority of Bright Green respondents, or those who are doing everything they can to make a long-term impact on their environment, care most about the environment, animal rights and education. One in five Dull Greens is satisfied with the current state of the environment, while, Bright Greens remain sad and skeptical about the future outlook and one in three even feel anger about the situation.

However, when I looked at a May 1, 2007, release from Landor Associates:

The difference in behaviors can best be seen at their extremes, by “Muted Green” and “Active Green” participants. Muted Greens are not convinced that the environment is in trouble and make the minimum effort to support environmental change, while Active Greens believe taking care of the environment is society’s responsibility and are doing everything they can to make a long-term impact on their environment.

What struck me in noting the shift, “Muted” to “Dull” and “Active” to “Bright” was that while “dull” may be accurate, it seems so negative.

“The value of examining the everyday lives and activities, as well as the emotions, of our green groups is that we can then adapt and refine the way in which we communicate with them to maximize relevant messages,” said Annie Longsworth, EVP and Managing Director of Cohn & Wolfe San Francisco. “What resonates with Bright Green people is very different from what rings true for Dull Greens, which presents some really exciting marketing challenges and opportunities.”

I suppose it’s no big deal, but it’s just an observation on my part. No one likes to be labeled “dull.” Even if they are.

Note: According to information on their Web site, Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates Inc. “conducted 803 interviews on the Internet among U.S. general population from Sept. 7-9, 2007. Respondents were screened to meet the following criteria: Age 18 or over. Gender, age, and region were weighted based on U.S. census information.

An earlier Internet survey was conducted with 1,504 U.S. interviewees between April 6 and April 8, 2007 and 1,525 interviews among the UK general population


Sarge Charlie said...

Oh my, I long for the days of S&H Green Stamps, Bright Green Stamps.

Sarge Charlie said...

I forgot to tell you I have seen parts of the War Special. Did you happen to see Band Of Brothers, it was an excellent series on the History Channel. I purchased it on DVD for my Grandkids to watch, we cannot forget what that generation did for the world. They are still young, their mother is saving it until she feels it is ok.

Marsha said...

That is an interesting shift from dull green to muted green. Personally I think that people who believe that the environment is fine the way it is should be labeled neon orange like a danger sign.

Marsha said...

Sarge, my husband loves band of brothers so much, when we were stationed in Italy we took a trip to France and retraced the steps of the band of brothers. This is also a really great book, and the author Stephen Ambrose also wrote some other amazing books, Pegasus Bridge, is another of my hubbies favs.

Marion said...

According to the Oxford English dictionary, dull means "slow of understanding,obtuse,stupid, not bright or vivid or keen" among other similar meanings.


Good post, Sheila...I had heard a little about the categorization of Green. I just shake my head. I would certainly not like to be called "dull"...and even if I am closer to the side of bright, who has the right to decide?

Lorelei said...

To me, the environmental issue is black or white. You either care or you don't. It seems strange to think of it in shades. I picture groups of people sitting around a huge table discussing how to name these shades and it just seems so absurd. lol

Poli Stew Cafe said...

Hi Sheila,
Thanks for leaving word at our blog. We appreciate hearing from you.

As far as dull green, muted, or bright, I'd never thought of any of these things.

This is all done for marketing, which only makes sense to them. I'd like not to have any "green" barriers put up between people, because I think whether your Ed Begley, Jr. or just the guy down the street tossing out the recyclables, they both try.

Joe said...

Interesting post. I really do believe that the initial purpose of the study was to better understand the mindset of people purely from a marketing/communication point of view. The change of labels probably occurred for political reasons.

The nursing facility that I work for uses a similar program called "color training," not for environmental impact, but to help us understand our coworkers and promote communication skills.

The theory is that we all have certain personality traits that can be lumped into 4 categories or "colors." Once we learn to recognize those character traits both in ourselves, and in people around us, we will be able to approach situations. It enables us to make ourselves understood a lot easier without offending others.

Trust me it works. A lot of us have gotten so good at "color" recognition that we can predict a persons color before they complete the seminar and tell us what they are.

Sheila said...

I remember the Green Stamps too. It would be fun to see them brought back as a retro marketing tool. Also, I loved Band of Brothers.

I'm no psychologist but I think I'd pick a different description.

That is what is so amazing. Corporations pay big bucks for this sort of research and these consultants have worked their way into all corners of our lives.

You are right. Any effort is better than no effort. I guess that's why I took notice of the "dull."

Thanks. Sounds a bit like the Myers-Briggs personality surveys. It may work but I'm a bit anti-label I guess. I don't like being told I'm this or that. Seems to take away my sense of individuality even if it is right on.

KJ said...

As always, this is a thought provoking article... Here are my thoughts, perhaps irreverent, but coming from my deep love for Creation...

While posting, I am singing... "It's not that easy being green..." I happen to love the color green and I am hoping that I won't end up hating it in this current political
climate. I guess there is hope since I still relish the word "gay"– and my definition does not include how people express their sex lives.


Here's my take...

It's not that easy being green
With all the shades that can be seen;
To have to choose from dull or bright,
Dark or light,
Or something much more earth shaking than that...

To be the color of the trees
And just enjoy it, if you please;
To run through meadows everyday
As global warming burns my way
Or something much more frolicsome than that...


And, although I cherish my world and respect it because I respect the Creator of this world– I live on a very small scale of energy use. I will listen to Mr. Sore Gore when he stops living in a house that is too big for his needs longer spends thousands of dollars a month on lavish swimming pools and energy hogging vehicles!

Lead by example, I say...

Sheila said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a poem as well as a good point about those who seek to reform our habits before examining their own.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Interesting you should post this. Yesterday I had a meeting with a guy who is one of the top leaders in the green movement, who works with major companies helping them go green, etc. We discussed this "shift in thinking", or "consciousness". There is a great book (and show) called the Lazy Environmentalist, which explains how easy it is to make a difference. Personally, I buy as much organic foods as possible, because they support renewable resorces, responsible farming techniques, etc. Plus I think its good to cut back on consuming all those pesticides!

Good pos Sheila

Poli Stew Cafe said...

Hey, Sheila
Stop by the blog.
I've got a video remix up that you & your friends might like.

Sheila said...

I do the same with organic when possible. And you are right that a lot of things we could do are not that difficult. Emphasizing ease would be a smart angle.

Hi poli stew, will do.

KJ said...

Hi Sheila!

Thanks for your post on my 100th Giveaway– and your kind comments...

I did want to add that I have been buying organic for some time and endeavoring to support the local farmers who are adapting "whole and healthy" approaches to agriculture. The local Farmer's Markets are often a great place to do this. I even bought an organic potted herb clipping garden this weekend. The owners also make an organic liquid worm fertilizer that makes all plants zing with new energy!

Tootles, KJ

Sheila said...

I'm the same with farmers markets and organic veggies.

Naomi said...

Great post Sheila. I'm lucky where I live as there is a regular farmers' market where you can buy produce. Also I tend to buy a lot of organic produce as I don't like the idea of pesticides. I think it's important that everybody does their bit however small, to help the environment. Between us, we can all make a difference. Not sure where those "shades" of green come in though. I think it's one of those marketing gimmicks.

Naomi said...

Band of Brothers was a very popular show over here in England too. I used to watch it.

Sheila said...

I think some things like organic produce and Band of Brothers are just internationally good.