According to the 2008 Green Gap Survey conducted by conducted by Cone LLC and The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Americans misunderstand key phrases commonly used in environmental marketing and advertising. As a result, U.S. consumers are investing products with more of an "environmental halo"than they deserve, creating a possible backlash.
According to the survey, almost four in 10 (39%) Americans are buying products they believe to be “environmentally friendly.” At the same time, almost half (48%) of the population mistakently believes a product marketed as “green” or “environmentally friendly” has a positive impact on the environment. Only 22% understand that these terms describe products with less negative environmental impact than previous versions or competing products.
Other survey findings show the following:
47% trust companies to tell them the truth in environmental messaging;
45% believe companies are accurately communicating information about their impact on the environment; and
61% of Americans say they understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising.
Despite this, more than half of Americans (59%) support a move by the government to ensure the accuracy of environmental messaging by regulating it.
In addition to government, Americans believe other entities can play an important oversight role to ensure accuracy in environmental messaging:
Certification by third-party organizations – 80%
Review and reporting by watchdog groups, news media, bloggers, etc. – 78%
Regulation by government – 76%
Self-policing by industry or business groups – 75%
Source: Cone, LLC