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Trending the World of Green: Roper Reports at 40

by Tim Kenyon , 18.09.2013

What is more important for people economic development or environmental protection?  How has this changed overtime?  How do current events impact consumer priorities? For the past 40 years, GfK’s Roper Reports® trends survey has been asking US and Global consumers their top environmental and economic concerns.

“Trending the World” is an ongoing collaboration with GfK’s Data Visualization team, created to mark the 40th anniversary of Roper Reports. In the latest installment, an interactive timeline takes you inside four decades of US and Global research on environmental concern and action.

Economics vs. Environment

The exact start of the modern environmental movement may be up for some debate, but most would peg the birth of the ‘movement’ somewhere between the early 1960’s and early 1970’s.  In addition to the social upheaval of this time period, an environmental awakening was taking place.  For example, 1962 saw the release of Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” which detailed the dangers of the pesticide DDT, while the early 1970’s saw the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the first major regulations on air/ water pollution.

But since then, concern for the environment has not always been ‘onward and upward.’  Indeed people have had (and still have) a somewhat tumultuous relationship with how they view environmental issues; balancing concern for the environment with their concern for the economy.  In fact, there tends to be an inverse relationship between concern for the environment and concern for the economy.  There actually have been two periods where “environment” outpaced “economy” – 1988-1989, a period of relatively good economic times and also the Exxon-Valdez oil spill and again from 1997-2000, which were boom years for the US economy.

Further, despite the peaks and valleys in concern for the environment, advances made by governments, businesses, non-profits, and individuals do point to a greener future with increasing numbers recycling, learning about the environment, and buying green/natural products.

In our new Trending the World, we compare over-time the percent of people in the US and globally who cite “environmental pollution” as a top 3 concern and the percent who cite “recession and unemployment” as a top 3 concern.  This interactive trend line is also punctuated with specific insights into what environmental issues were top (or bottom) of mind for people during a given time period.

The Trending the World series also depicts how market research is changing. To GfK, research is not only producing reliable, high-quality data but depicting what it means through innovative, leading-edge storytelling that can transform and inspire organizations to realize the fruit of insight in sales, market share, and profit.

Click here if you would like more information on how you can tap into the consumer expertise of Roper Reports® and the data-visualization capabilities of GfK.

And stay tuned for upcoming installments of Trending the World, in which we will expand our scope into the global lens of Roper Reports Worldwide® with insight from our new 2013 global survey.

Trending the World is produced by Jon Berry, Danielle Carrick, Stephen Shecora, and the Roper Reports team.

For more information on our environmental insights, please contact Tim Kenyon, Director of GfK’s Green Gauge Survey, tim.kenyon@gfk.com.  For more information on Trending the World, please contact Jon Berry, jon.berry@gfk.com.