UK consumers' demand for green products is not being derailed by economic concerns, according to a major survey that reveals companies such as Tesco, M &S and British Gas are beginning to reap rewards from their environmental initiatives.
The survey of 1,000 adults from NGO The Climate Group, media giant Sky and brand consultancy Lippincott found that despite the gloomy economic climate, the number of people committed to taking action to cut their environmental impact rose in the last year, climbing nine per cent to almost a quarter of respondents.
Moreover, the majority of people have bought into claims from politicians and economists that tackling climate change can boost the economy, while 58 per cent felt that climate change measures would not cost individuals money.
Report author, Ewan Jones, said the report revealed that with most people accepting they could do more to help cut their carbon emissions, there was huge pent up demand for green and energy efficient products.
"There are some great green products out there, but demand is still well ahead of supply," he said. "If you take renewable energy as an example, there is excitement about it, but still only about two per cent of our energy comes from renewables."
He added that firms capable of developing innovative and cost-effective green products without a price premium will find a large and receptive audience.
"People are ahead of political and business leaders on the environment, but they do not want to pay more for green products," he explained. "That means products that can offer energy and fuel efficiency but do not have a price premium are going to play well at the moment."
The survey also revealed that established and popular brands are best positioned to exploit consumers' growing interest in environmental issues, with Tesco, M&S, E.ON, the Co-operative Group and British Gas identified as the top brands taking a lead on climate change.
"You might expect brands such as the Body Shop to lead, but actually it is big companies in high-carbon sectors that are best regarded," said Jones. "It suggests that if you are already well-received as a brand, you are in a good position to build on that regard by making environmental issues part of your business, as M&S has done with Plan A."
He added that large firms that have previously faced some criticism on their environmental record can still develop a strong green brand by focusing on a specific issue.
"Some of our qualitative research showed British Gas faced some criticism, but the company has made a big play of its home energy efficiency campaigns and has climbed up our list," observed Jones.
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