More Than They Realize to Live "Green"
When it comes to doing their part for the environment, Americans may be "greener" than they think - with many participating in more than two "green" activities regularly. A new study entitled "Moving Consumers from Green Interest to Green Action," conducted by Insight Research Group in partnership with HGTV and the Natural Resources Defense Council, set out to gain an in-depth understanding of people's relationship to green and how it fits into their lives. The research found that more than 84 percent of respondents believe "it is a moral obligation" to care for the environment and 86 percent already participate in at least one green activity such as conserving energy at home, recycling, driving a fuel efficient car, buying recycled products or picking up litter. However, the research also found that a main barrier to doing more "green" actions is people's trepidation that such activities may associate them with extreme political or environmental viewpoints.
Not surprisingly, given the increased media coverage of "green" topics, the study found that 40 percent of consumers say they are more aware of environmental issues now than they were in 2006. In addition, 81 percent of respondents think the current focus on environmental or "green" issues is "here to stay" rather than a "passing fad."
"Until now, the communication around environmentally-friendly lifestyles has been focused on an all or nothing approach, but this study shows that consumers want to understand the full spectrum of green activity -- from choosing eco-friendly building and design products to recycling or using alternative forms of energy," said Jim Samples, president, HGTV. "And they want to understand how what they do impacts their homes, neighborhoods and communities, without feeling that they have to make a political or social statement. For its part, HGTV will continue to integrate green themes into new initiatives and existing programs. Our goal is to inspire and empower viewers with aesthetically-pleasing, affordable and accessible eco-focused ideas."
The study found that Americans would be willing to do even more if they understood how a particular "green" action could help the environment as well as benefit them personally. In fact, 78 percent said they are "willing to make a lifestyle change for the good of the environment." While many responded that "the best way to solve current environmental problems" is through individuals (72 percent) and businesses (64 percent) taking responsibility, most admit they can't distinguish between the reality and the hype, and report it is hard to know what actions are truly good for the environment.
As part of its charitable initiative, Change the World. Start at Home(SM), HGTV, in partnership with organizations such as Natural Resources Defense Council, Rebuilding Together and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will help consumers identify "green" activities that can contribute to environmental preservation.
In addition, the network will premiere new "green" series and episodes in 2008.
"People are coming to realize that the environment isn't just a place you go visit. It's in our homes, under the sink and on the dinner plate. It's in the choices we all make every day," said Alex Kennaugh, director of marketing, NRDC. "That means they have the power in their own hands to make help it better. One step leads to the next, and pretty soon you're making a real difference in your life. There is a tremendous appetite for simple steps and meaningful action. But the hard part is separating out the help from the hype."
When asked why they participate in "green" activities, consumers reported the major motivators are that "it's good for the environment" (82 percent), "it helps future generations" (78 percent), "it's healthy" (78 percent), "it's the 'right thing' to do" (78 percent), and "it fits with my morals or beliefs" (73 percent). Interestingly, Insight Research Group's consumer segmentation, People's Approach to Green and the Environment (PAGE), revealed that consumers who are the most green, "Green Gurus" (17 percent), regularly participate in 4.1 green activities, while the rest of consumers -- which includes Conscientious Citizens (24 percent), Guidance Seekers (24 percent) Bystanders (17 percent) and Hype Haters (18 percent) - are not far behind, regularly participating in an average of 2.5 green activities.
"Insight's approach to this consumer segmentation is different from other studies which focus more specifically on behaviors and tag people along a light to dark green spectrum," said Amy Henry, vice president, Insight Research Group. "Our PAGE analysis takes into account people's entire mindset, evaluating their relationship to green as one part of their overall approach to life. Because our segmentation considers the 'whole person,' it sets up the opportunity to speak to these different types of people in a way that will truly motivate them to increase 'green' behaviors. If we deliver the right information and messages, there is opportunity, particularly among the Conscientious Citizens and Guidance Seekers, to get consumers to act on their 'moral obligation' to care for the environment."
Insight's research methodology consisted of both qualitative and quantitative phases. The initial qualitative research phase included twenty 30-minute phone interviews recruited via RDD (random digit dialing) among consumers of a wide range of ages, professions, regions, political opinions, and environmental attitudes. The phone interviewees also completed a three-day online, interactive debate via blogging based on "green"-focused prompts and questions. The quantitative research phase consisted of a nationally representative online survey with a robust sample recruited via RDD (N = 1000).
Insight research Group
Founded in 1998, Insight Research Group (www.insightresearch.biz) is a brand research and strategy firm that identifies and interprets the psychological and cultural drivers behind consumer brand relationships. Insight translates these insights into customized strategies for deepening and strengthening a brand's emotional connection to consumers, ultimately changing behaviors and driving business results. Insight successfully applies this approach across a wide range of clients, including lifestyle, media, technology, fashion and youth-focused organizations.
HGTV, America's leader in home and lifestyle programming, is distributed to more than 95 million U.S. households and is one of cable's top-rated networks. HGTV's website, http://www.hgtv.com, is the nation's leading online home-and-garden destination that attracts an average of 5.2 million unique visitors per month. HGTV owns 33 percent of HGTV Canada and provides much of the Canadian network's daily programming. The network's branded programming also can be seen in 124 territories across all seven continents and its selected programming is available to service men and women on board Navy ships and through American Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS) which services more than 1,000 outlets in over 175 countries. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville and New York, HGTV is wholly owned by The E.W. Scripps Company (NYSE:SSP), which also operates Food Network (http://www.foodnetwork.com), DIY Network (http://www.diynetwork.com), Fine Living TV Network (http://www.finelivingcom), and Great American Country (http://www.gactv.com).
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org.