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Press release
Fashion and Lifestyle|Trends and Forecasting|United States|English

Two-Thirds of US Consumers Believe Companies Need to Be Environmentally Responsible

New York, NY, 21.04.2015

US scores below average in global study of environmental attitudes

Coinciding with the 45th annual Earth Day this week, GfK has released new data from a study that explores global attitudes towards the environment. Over 28,000 people in 23 countries, including 1,500 US respondents, were asked whether or not they:

  • Believe brands and companies “have to be” environmentally responsible
  • Feel guilty when not being environmentally friendly“
  • Only buy” products and services that appeal to their beliefs, values or ideals

​Internationally, 76% of consumers believe that companies have a responsibility to be environmentally conscious. In comparison, only 66% of US respondents agree. Slightly more than half (53%) of US consumers say they feel guilty when they act in “non-green” ways, compared to 63% globally. The research yielded similar results for only purchasing products that reflect consumers’ values and ideals; the US scored 54%, versus a 63% global average.

Total disagreement with the three statements was extremely low worldwide: 6% felt brands have no need to be environmentally responsible; 14% did not feel guilt when being environmentally unfriendly; and 11% buy products that do not align with their values.

Brands and environmental responsibility
Internationally, over three quarters of women (78%) and exactly three quarters of men (75%) agree that brands and companies are obligated to be environmentally responsible. Consumers in the US were less likely to agree strongly with this statement – 17%, versus a global figure of 28%.

When it comes to different age groups worldwide, there is a fairly even distribution of those in overall agreement, with the 30-39 year olds slightly ahead at 80%, followed by 40-49 year olds (78%) and those aged 60 and over (77%). The youngest age group (15-19 year olds) boast over two thirds (69%) agreeing with the statement. Although they come behind the other age groups, a clear majority believe brands and companies have to be environmentally responsible. The age groups that show the highest numbers of strong agreement, however, are the 50-59 (31%) and 40-49 year olds (30%).

Looking at individual countries, consumers in India and Indonesia express the highest overall agreement with this statement (94 and 93% respectively). And even in those countries with the lowest levels of agreement – Japan at 58% and Sweden at 62% – we are still seeing well over half of their consumers backing this statement.

Feeling guilty
On personal responsibility, nearly two thirds (63%) of consumers internationally say they feel guilty when being environmentally unfriendly – including 17% who agree strongly (compared to only 12% in the US). Again, this is slightly led by women in agreement (64%) versus 61% of men.

Reflecting beliefs when shopping
Globally, men and women are absolutely level (63%) regarding purchases that reflect their beliefs, values or ideals. However, women are slightly more likely to agree strongly with this statement (17% worldwide, compared to 15% of men).

For more information on GfK’s international research into people’s attitudes and behavior, please contact press(at)gfk.com

​About the study
For the survey, GfK interviewed over 28,000 people aged 15 or older in 23 countries, either online or face-to-face, in summer 2014. The countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, Ukraine and USA.

About GfK
GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.

For more information, please visit 
www.gfk.com/us or follow GfK on Twitter.