In an interesting twist on the global movement towards higher corporate environmental responsibility, research by the New Scientist and research firms Earthsense and Trucost reveals that some companies are much greener than consumers perceive them to be. A deliberate move from some firms to do good without too much public scrutiny, or a major marketing failure?
Gap between firms’ reputations and performance
ENDS Europe Daily, 18 February 2010 – Some companies are much greener than consumers think, according to an analysis of 115 major corporations and US consumers’ perceptions of them by magazine New Scientist and research firms Earthsense and Trucost.
The analysis, published on Wednesday, shows Coca-Cola is getting little credit for “fairly impressive” efforts to protect the environment. It has the second lowest impact of all the food and drink producers surveyed, but consumers do not recognise this.
The environmental impact of the entire food and drink sector is hugely underestimated, the analysis reveals. Consumers do not rate it as more damaging than other sectors, despite the very high environmental costs of agriculture and food processing.
Conversely some firms have a much better reputation than they deserve, according to the analysis. Fresh Del Monte Produce is seen as very green but has the largest impact ratio of all companies analysed. Another example is Discovery Communications.
GE is reaping the benefits from marketing its Ecomagination campaign , the authors say. Others such as Whole Foods Market portray themselves as green companies, but it is hard to prove because they do not disclose all their environmental data.
Disclosing more information on their impacts would help reduce the number of “dramatic mismatches” highlighted in the analysis, say the authors. Investors are demanding more corporate environmental data but consumer information is lagging behind.