Gain a Sustainable Advantage :: Shelton Group

Eco Pulse™ 2014

Eco Pulse™ is Shelton Group’s annual consumer green affinity study, tracking purchases, behaviors and attitudes related to sustainability. Eco Pulse creates a clear, robust picture of your target consumers – including which product features actually get them to pull out their wallets – so you can develop marketing strategies that speak their language.

Study OverviewMethodologyExecutive SummaryPress Release

Eco Pulse: The Curse of an Improving Economy

Want a window into the mind of the American consumer?

Shelton Group’s seventh annual Eco Pulse™ study reveals exactly what you need to know about how Americans view all things green – and how that translates into buying behaviors and sustainable actions. We cover sustainability across a range of categories, including food, electronics, cleaning products, home improvement products and green homes.

If you need a 3-D full-color picture of the American consumer in order to develop successful strategies for your sustainability efforts, look no further.

Sneak a peek. Download the executive summary for free.

They’re a tricky bunch, consumers. The economy’s up, but their green purchases and behaviors are down. (We think the improving economy is actually making them less interested in conservation as a money-saving strategy.) So what really makes them tick? Find out …

  • How important corporate reputation is in their decision journey
  • Which third-party certifications persuade them to buy
  • Which product features grease the purchase wheels
  • Which ingredients they’re avoiding
  • How to get them to recycle (hint: they really want to)
  • What critical needs a green product should fill to beat the non-green competition

Sample pages. Peruse a few pages of the report, then download your complete copy.
Eco Pulse 2014 – Page 2     Eco Pulse 2014 – Page 35

Keep your brand batting a thousand while the economy is throwing you curve balls. Arm yourself with valuable insider knowledge and insight into trends so that you stay ahead of the game. Eco Pulse 2014 will help you …

  • Identify opportunities for capturing consumer loyalty
  • Understand which drivers and messaging resonate best
  • Create a competitive advantage for your brand

Buy your full copy today. 

Eco Pulse is a quantitative survey containing a mix of fixed-response alternative and Likert scale questions. The survey was fielded via the Internet in April 2014. Shelton Group utilized SSI’s online community for sampling. The survey was geographically stratified to mirror the regional population distribution of U.S. residents age 18 and older (227,301,996). Survey sample data were weighted slightly to match U.S. age, education, gender and ethnicity. The survey yielded 2,015 complete responses, for a 95% confidence level and a confidence interval of +/- 2.2% (margin of error).

Download your sneak peek now.

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Martha Behm

The Curse of an Improving Economy

Shelton Group’s New Study Shows Both Trouble and Silver Lining for Green Brands

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., June 29, 2014 – Green attitudes are gaining ground, but green purchases and behaviors are stagnant or heading south. And the economy may be the culprit. That’s the latest finding from Shelton Group, the nation’s leading marketing communications firm entirely focused in the sustainability and energy efficiency sectors, which just released its seventh annual Eco Pulse™ study. Eco Pulse polls American consumers each year to track shifts in their attitudes, purchases and behaviors related to sustainability.

“Last year, an improving economy seemed to be stimulating environmental engagement and green product purchases, and all signs pointed to an increase in market adoption and significant sales growth for green products. But that’s not the case,” said Suzanne Shelton, CEO of Shelton Group. “We’re seeing a continued shift toward more pro-environmental attitudes, along with increasing concerns and feelings of eco-guilt that should, logically, be leading to more sustainable purchasing. But purchases and actions are not lining up with professed beliefs. And we think the improving economy is to blame.”

The study found that with the exception of recycling, self-reported green behaviors and product purchases are generally stagnant or down across the board – from home energy and water conservation habits and product purchases, to transportation activities, to greener cleaning, personal care and food product purchases.

“We think the improving economy shifted attention away from conservation and frugality,” said Shelton. “But the good news for green brands is that 70 percent of Americans are searching for greener products, and corporate commitments to sustainability are becoming a baseline criterion for product consideration. Companies that are doing a good job of ‘owning’ a sustainability issue or that are known for environmentally responsible practices are becoming appealing to more and more consumers,” said Shelton.

The study shows a continuing trend in the way Americans identify green products, relying less on packaging call-outs and more on overall corporate reputation and certifications. Half the population said that a company’s environmental reputation impacts their decisions as to whether or not to buy its products, and this impact is even stronger for those searching for greener products. Specifically the study found:

• Over a quarter of the market rely on certifications in their identification and selection of green products, but almost 30 percent of Americans said they know a product is green based on the company’s environmental record.

• When asked the things that most strongly contribute to green reputation, the study shows increased emphasis on improving product content, such as removing chemicals of concern or adding recycled content, and reducing waste. However, corporate social responsibility initiatives also have a strong impact, as evidenced by unaided recall results. Many brands identified as green are not technically sustainable, but have successfully adopted environmental, health or human service initiatives that seem to be giving them a “green halo.”

• Respondents were asked what they would do if a company that makes their favorite toilet paper and advertised itself as green were to receive a government fine for failing emissions standards or for polluting a nearby river. Results remained consistent with previous years, with almost 70 percent saying they’d stop buying the product. Specifically, 50 percent said
they’d stop buying, and 19 percent would not only stop buying, but also encourage others to do the same. Only 30 percent said they would likely continue to buy the product.

• While purchase drivers can vary across product categories, results showed that the top two drivers (natural resource conservation, 25 percent; health and safety, 23 percent) are the same as they were five years ago – the last time we asked this question.

“We hope these findings help companies understand how important it is to define and tell their corporate sustainability story,” said Shelton. “By leveraging the issues consumers care about most, companies can get a competitive advantage while doing the right thing for the environment.”


Shelton Group is the nation’s leading marketing communications agency entirely focused in the energy efficiency and sustainability space. The Knoxville, Tennessee-based firm works with many of America’s leading utility, building products and consumer goods companies to develop differentiated communications campaigns to leverage their sustainability stories for a market advantage. That campaign work is informed by insights and perspectives extracted from Shelton’s quarterly polling of American attitudes and behaviors about energy efficiency and sustainability.

For more information about Shelton Group, visit

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