One Universal Sustainability Score Will Impact Purchase Decisions, Drive Sales

According to new survey findings by Ryan Partnership Chicago and Mambo Sprouts Marketing, health and eco-​consumers want one universal green score to help them make sustainable product buying decisions.  The new research also suggests shoppers would increase sustainable product spending if only they could determine which products were truly green and which had been simply green-washed. 

"We know that consumer commitment to earth-​friendly products is increasing," says Christine Nardi Diette, president of Ryan Partnership Chicago.  "But all of the green messaging is creating more confusion than confidence. Consumers are challenging manufacturers and retailers to be clear about their commitment to sustainability."

According to the study, health and eco-​conscious consumers say that a universal product sustainability score would influence their brand purchase decisions.  Research findings indicate just how strong the demand is for such a score and how consumers would prefer the rating system to work: 

  • Among shoppers, the vast majority (8 in 10 or more) want a product sustainability score.  Even the majority (55%) of those who are not committed to buying sustainably would welcome such a score.
  • Three in four consumers said a numerical score would be most useful in communicating sustainability.  Symbols and text were less popular, favored by just over 25%.
  • While a single score would seem simple and clear, shoppers understand that sustainability is complex and are open to the idea of multiple scores to improve the quality of communication.
  • At least three in four consumers looked for an independent organization or group of experts across different areas of sustainability (without a profit motive) to create the score.
  • Over half of shoppers prefer that sustainability information be displayed within the store: packaging, labels, and signage.


The study also found that consumers are more discerning about what makes a product sustainable.

"While consumers remain focused on a product's environmental impact (e.g. energy conservation and carbon footprint), increasingly social, eco-​economy and other facets of corporate responsibility are being considered including Fair Trade, cruelty-​free and locally sourced," says Matthew Saline, founder and CEO of Mambo Sprouts Marketing.

"Those brands that take the lead on these trends and establish themselves as credible on the topic of sustainability will reap the benefits in terms of an increased share of wallet and shopper loyalty," says Diette. "But implicit in the consumer conversation is the idea that sustainable products will meet standards of quality and performance, ideally at a price consumers can afford."

[Source:  "One Green Score for One Earth."  Ryan Partnership Chicago/​Mambo Sprouts Marketing.  13 Sept. 2011.  Web.  20 Sept. 2011.]