THURSDAY 18 NOV 2010 4:28 PM


The general public takes little notice of companies’ sustainability efforts, a new study claims.

Marketing Sustainability 2010, by US-based consumer culture analysts The Hartman Group, reveals that while 15% more consumers are now aware of the term ‘sustainability’, compared to three years ago (69% in 2010 compared with 54% in 2007), just 21% can identify a sustainable product and even fewer – 12% – can name specific companies as sustainable.

"We're seeing a broad gap in the way consumers and companies think about and approach sustainability," said Laurie Demeritt, Hartman group president & COO. "That very few consumers today can name a sustainable company underscores the fact that so many corporate social responsibility and sustainability activities go relatively unnoticed by consumers.

The report examines the degree of loyalty and commitment consumers have for companies, brands and products that are perceived to be sustainable. It argues that consumers are looking for reciprocal relations with their brands and the companies they do business with – “not faceless, abstract ones” – to make their personal lives more fulfilling.

"Consumers equate sustainability with the golden rule, or a reciprocal notion of fair treatment of communities, people, or animals, and look through this lens when evaluating companies or thinking about which brands to use," said Demeritt.

When ranking criteria relating to sustainability's four zones, just over three out of four consumers say they are primarily interested in whether companies offer quality products followed closely by providing safe working conditions for employees.


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