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Who Scores with a Green Score?

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It’s remarkable the impact one simple little number could have in advancing sustainable buying behavior.

The just released One Green Score for One Earth research study, conducted with our partner, Ryan Partnership Chicago, shows the vast majority of consumers (8 in 10 or more) want one universal green score to aid them in making more sustainable purchase choices.

phone.pngCommitted eco-shoppers say such a score would significantly influence their purchase decisions. Three out of four consumers indicate they would find a numerical score most useful in communicating product sustainability information. And all agree the information should be provided at the moment of decision-making – in the store.

On the surface this may sound like a straightforward demand that makes perfect business sense to accommodate. But as the study reveals, determining which factors to include in such a score is rather challenging.

Significant differences exist in what consumers consider most important, and the more committed consumers are to sustainable purchasing, the more likely they are to include a wider variety of factors in their decision-making (e.g., quality, durability, environmentally friendly, locally sourced, cruelty-free, corporate responsibility, organic, convenient, healthy, natural, eco-packaging, Fair Trade, supports local community, price). Add to this the difficulty of actually developing a quantitative measure of some of these factors, then weighting their importance (e.g., are carbon emissions more important than working conditions?).

Sustainability is a complicated process. But, as noted in the study, marketers across industries and retail channels need to come together to develop a system that makes it easy for consumers to assess the sustainability of one product in comparison to another. The potential rewards – to consumers, marketers, and the Earth — will outweigh the challenges.

The intent of the study was to spark the dialogue among industry stakeholders on how a score could best be presented to consumers. By starting the conversation now, marketers will be equipped with the knowledge required to make a universal score as meaningful as possible from the moment it is established

How would a sustainability score change your retail strategies? What would you want to see in score design and execution? We invite you to join the conversation.

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