Image is Everything in a Greener World


So who’s the greenest of them all? If perception is reality, then AdvertisingAge has the answer. This report illustrates who’s done the best job of being — check that — appearing to be the greenest companies around.

Burt’s Bees and Whole Foods lead the 2010 ImagePower Green Brands Survey’s list of top 10 U.S. brands perceived to be the greenest, with Aveeno and Microsoft joining the list this year. The fifth annual study also found that in the U.S., people are more concerned about the economy than the environment, while in developing countries, such as Brazil and India, the environment takes precedence.

Making the top 10 brands list in the U.S. after Burt’s Bees and Whole Foods were, in order, Tom’s of Maine, Trader Joe’s, Google, Aveeno, S.C. Johnson, Publix, Microsoft and Ikea.

The survey, released this week, was done by WPP companies Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland in partnership with Esty Environmental Partners, a corporate environmental strategy consultant. They did online interviews from Feb. 27 to March 24 with 9,022 people in the U.S., Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, U.K. and, for the first time, Australia.

The survey found that more than 60% of consumers around the world said they want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. In the U.S., though, 35% of those surveyed said they plan to spend more on green products, down 4% from 2009. That reflects the U.S.’ focus on economic worries. "Almost 80% of the [U.S.] consumers said they were more concerned about the economy that the environment. That’s the highest of any other country," says Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer for Landor, San Francisco.

In developing countries, however, the split goes the other way. Of those surveyed in Brazil, for example, 72% were concerned about the environment while 25% cited the economy. "India’s got a split like that, too—59% and 32%," Meyer says. "It’s interesting to see. There’s a bit of a Western bias that the West is further advanced in thinking about sustainability. India, China—those economies are already on their way to mending, and not so in Europe and the Americas."