A Greener ‘Vision’ for BC Marketers?

Ipsos Reid’s Carmen Chan will be joining a number of her colleagues at today’s BCAMA Vision Conference in Vancouver – an event proudly sponsored by Ipsos. No doubt, some of BC’s biggest marketers will be there. How are those retail marketers doing at greening up their reputations? Carmen wrote about that very topic for the BCAMA’s Marketline publication. And we have a posting about her article, including a list of the Top 10 Mentioned Environmentally-Friendly Retailers in BC found in a recent Ipsos Reid study on retailers and the environment.

Greener Actions, Greener Pastures: The importance of keeping your consumers aware of your environmental actions
By Carmen Chan, Ipsos Reid
Published in the Spring 2012 issue of BCAMA’s Marketline

We have a reputation in British Columbia for caring about and loving our natural environment. With all our natural wonder – mountains, trees, lakes, waterfalls, wildlife – who wouldn’t love it! But when we head back to civilization and out for some well-deserved retail therapy, do we really put our money where our mouth is? Or is this merely an inaccurate or idealized stereotype?

At Ipsos Reid, we wanted to know if BC consumers truly do ‘think green’ when they go shopping – and we don’t mean the colour of that cute little number in the window. We’re talking their environmental intentions. More precisely, we wanted to know if a retailer’s activities to help preserve and protect the environment are relevant to British Columbians. The short answer is an emphatic YES! Our study showed that a large majority (71%) of British Columbians say that a retailer’s actions are either very or somewhat important in deciding where to shop. The importance placed on this aspect of a retailer’s performance has remained high each time it has been tested (67% in 2011; 72% in 2010; and 74% in 2009).

Clearly, our reputation matches reality on this front.

In BC, we also have a reputation for building some fantastic world-class retail brands – many of them well represented within the BCAMA. But what about on the environmental front? Which BC retailers stand out in the minds of environment conscious consumers?

In our study, survey respondents were asked to name one retailer they thought best exemplifies an environmentally-friendly business. The question was posed without a pre-determined list to choose from. And a large majority of respondents (70%) could name a retailer that they feel is making the grade.

Who did they name? And how did BC retailers do? There are certainly a lot you will recognize. Topping the list is Mountain Equipment Co-op, a BC-based outdoor activity and recreation retailer. Other BC-based retailers including London Drugs, Save-On-Foods, and Choices ranked in the Top 10 alongside international brands such as Starbucks, The Body Shop, and Whole Foods.

Top 10 Mentioned Environmentally-Friendly Retailers in BC

   1. Mountain Equipment Co-op

   2. Save-On-Foods

   3. Starbucks

   4. Thrifty Foods

   5. The Body Shop

   6. Real Canadian Superstore

   7. London Drugs

   8. Choices Market

   9. Whole Foods Market

  10. Safeway

That’s great news for these companies. Clearly, they have programs in place to help protect our environment and they are very savvy in how they communicate these efforts with the public and their consumers.

But not every company out there can say the same. Collectively, the results of our study suggest that not all British Columbians are satisfied with the job that retailers are doing – only 39% give retailers as a whole in BC a good score (2% very good, 37% somewhat good). Much of this is because more British Columbians are unable to answer (34% don’t know) rather than a lot feeling they are doing a poor job (25% give retailers a poor score, 2% very poor).

The results clearly reflect the fact that many consumers haven’t heard about actions taken by BC retailers when it comes to environmental protection and sustainability. This suggests that better communication tactics by retailers can make a difference as much as better environmental strategies can.

There are a number of avenues open to you for communicating your environmental efforts. Word of mouth (77%), in-store information provided by the retailer (77%) and independent media sources (74%) were the top three ways BC consumers said they would rely on to find out about the environmental activities of a retailer. But they would also turn to the internet, with 66% saying they would look at retailer specific websites and 52% saying they would turn to independent websites about the environment.

In a world where perception can quickly become reality – or at least have a real impact on your bottom line – you want to ensure that your hard work and dedication to protecting the environment is clearly communicated and entrenched in your brand. Understanding consumer perceptions and tracking your progress are part of a successful strategy to building a green brand and connecting to the values of British Columbians.

Carmen is a Senior Research Manager at Ipsos Reid’s Vancouver office. Carmen manages numerous research and tracking projects for retail clients. For more information on this study, please contact carmen.chan@ipsos.com or visit the Ipsos news center at www.ipsos-na.com/news.

These findings are part of Ipsos Reid’s 2012 Retail Trends in British Columbia Study which features regular special feature reports on current events in the retail industry. Specific findings are from an Ipsos Reid study fielded from March 26 to April 3, 2012. This online survey of 1,177 adult British Columbians, 18 years and older, was conducted using Ipsos Reid’s proprietary “Voice of the West Interactive Forum” – an online panel of more than 6,000 British Columbians who have been randomly recruited to match the overall characteristics of the adult residents of the province. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online studies of this nature, however, an unweighted probability sample of this size, with a 100% response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.