Europeans are more green than Americans (just watch out for sharks in your car)

Before we get to the substance of this post, let me doff my hat to the graphic designers who made the WTF?-inducing image of a great white shark jumping out of the back seat in a see-through car to bite the head of the driver. Go ahead and read that again. The image - and what can you say about it but WTF? - is found on the website of Porter Novelli, a marketing firm that worked on the survey I'm about to discuss. Ever since I've seen that backseat shark, and I haven't been quite normal.

Anyway, the survey at hand (by Porter Novelli and the Natural Marketing Institute) asked sharks people in eight countries about their green habits. The upshot is that Europeans are, oh, about 50 percent more likely than Americans to purchase green products. What kinds of products? Well, the study, called LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability), defined them as things like solar panels, hybrid cars and natural/organic foods, personal care and home products. Americans, though, are more likely to say they'll pay more for green products, then not do it. Europeans are also 25 percent more likely to recycle and over 30 percent more likely to encourage people they know to take care of the environment.

The eight countries surveyed were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom (it seems like results from these countries were them compared to a similar LOHAS study done in the U.S.). There are more details in the press release after the jump.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go edit the Wikipedia entry for sharks to add a warning not to keep saltwater in your backseat.

[Source: Porter Novelli]
NEW YORK, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Europeans, across the countries surveyed, are fifty percent more likely than Americans to buy "green" products - from solar panels to hybrid cars to natural/organic foods, personal care and home products, according to the groundbreaking European LOHAS study based on a partnership between Porter Novelli (PN) and Natural Marketing Institute (NMI). (LOHAS is an acronym that stands for Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability.) Survey results from the database released today also found that Europeans are 25% more likely to recycle and more than 30% likely to influence their friends and family about the environment than Americans.

The 2007 European LOHAS study, conducted in conjunction with PN's EuroPNStyles survey, segments the total adult population by country according to consumers' attitudes, behaviors and product/service usage patterns across several areas including sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmentalism, social issues and the use of eco-friendly products and services. EuroPNStyles, part of Porter Novelli's communication-centered Styles database, also assesses major trends in technology, media patterns, sources of influence and health and nutrition. Countries surveyed were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. The European LOHAS segmentation model mimics that of the U.S. so that comparisons can be made - both between continents and within the eight EU countries - of great value to multinational and pan-European marketers.

Insights reveal trends in the ethical consumerism and environmental movements and demonstrate how consumers think about their health, what motivates their food and nutrition choices, how they go about purchasing products and services, and their attitudes towards CSR, environmentalism and how they are using media and technology products.

Clients can also customize the LOHAS research to their needs and delve into their consumer's mindset to understand the relevancy of communications messages. And because each study will be conducted on a yearly basis, information can be collected over time to spot growing trends and evaluate the long-term impact of communications programs.

"Today, a brand's value rests upon its ability to create positive exchanges among all of its stakeholders in a relationship that is interactive, mutable and transformative. Given the growth in ethical consumerism and eco- consciousness and the availability of information in a knowledge age, brands that adopt values of authenticity, transparency and integrity, and that are aligned with the core beliefs and values of their audiences, will have a greater chance of succeeding," said Julie Winskie, partner and chief client officer at PN. "We have formed this partnership with NMI to stay abreast of and calibrate important trends to help marketers navigate their products and services to ensure that they are creating relevant, meaningful and sustainable brand exchanges."

While Europeans are eagerly adopting new behaviors as it relates to green consumerism; paradoxically, they report being more price sensitive than their American counterparts. Specifically,

-- Europeans are approximately 25 percent less likely than U.S. shoppers to say they will pay 20 percent more for eco-friendly products. However, this is in apparent contradiction with actual purchases, as Europeans are more likely to have purchased products like organic foods, renewable power and hybrid cars. Differences in tax structures, subsidies, and the longevity of the availability of LOHAS products likely drive these differences.

-- Europeans are approximately 32% more likely than Americans to be motivated to buy products with seals or certifications indicating the product is environmentally-friendly, underscoring the critical roles that authenticity and transparency play.

-- EU consumers are also approximately 25% more likely than U.S. consumers to say that, aside from making money for shareholders, it is most important for companies to be sensitive to their environmental impact. This indicates a strong need for meaningful corporate sustainability programs and effective communications that address this interest and show leadership over competitors.

"As global eco-momentum in the marketplace continues, the LOHAS movement will accelerate consumer alignment of social beliefs and personal values with those of brands and companies. It is this frame of mind that will drive the LOHAS market and make sustainability the key growth driver of long-term stakeholder and brand equity for decades to come," said Steve French, managing partner at NMI. "We are delighted to partner with PN in helping companies to understand this truly sustainable opportunity," added French.

The partnership between NMI and PN offers a combination of best-in-class services - from consumer segmentation and strategic insights, to counsel on product development and packaging, to strategic communications programs and measurement and evaluation.

The research was administered via the Internet using Synovate's Global Opinion Panel. The sample consists of a total of 16,000 adults age 18+ across eight European countries (2,000 surveys per country). The survey was fielded in July 2007. Custom analysis, trend reports, and LOHAS consumer panels also are available.

About the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI)

Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) is a strategic consulting and market research company specializing in the health, wellness, and sustainability marketplace. NMI is the only source for trended LOHAS consumer data and insight. Its capabilities focus on the well-being of people and products, and the environmentally and socially responsible sustainability of the planet. Since 1990, NMI has used its expertise to assist a wide range of clients across many industries, from global multinationals to start-ups. For more information, please visit .

About Porter Novelli

Porter Novelli is one of the world's leading public relations agencies and is represented in all major markets. With a focus on effective stakeholder communications and adopting a holistic, media-neutral approach, Porter Novelli develops public relations programs that deliver value and impact to its clients' business. Porter Novelli was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1972 and is a part of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC) ( ). Omnicom is a leading global advertising, marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom's branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries. For more information, please visit .

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