Outlaw Consulting has named Gen Y's Favorite 15 Green Brands.
Outlaw Consulting, a creative qualitative research firm (a.k.a. a trend company), surveyed 100 trendsetters living in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco and working in fields such as fashion, music and nightlife (but not explicitly sustainability). The sample consisted mostly of the first wave of Generation Y, ages 21-29.
"While they are motivated to help the cause and are striving to educate themselves, they are far from experts," according to Outlaw Consulting. "Our aim was to discover which companies are going beyond the niche segment of hard-core Greenies to win over influential Gen Y's."
The results should give more information to green businesses, and those aspiring to reduce their environmental footprints, to help them further bridge the gap between environmentalism's fringe roots and the true mainstream. Although green businesses like the ones below have seen extremely strong growth in recent years, they also face challenges from greenwashing competitors, consumer fatigue and a struggling economy.
Here are the panel's selections:
Survey respondents said they viewed the things they put in their bodies as the most important to them in terms of going green -- that means healthful organic foods and personal products. According to Outlaw, trendsetters tend to reward perceived leaders in their fields as well, so given those factor's it's not surprising that Whole Foods tops out the list of favored brands. The spacious stores are typically packed with hundreds of organic and natural products, from pre-made gourmet lunches to organic TV dinners, bulk grains and natural toothpaste and makeup.
Ditto for Trader Joe's, a quirky company with a unique business model (premium private label goods, going after particular niches, good customer service...). Plus, Gen Y'ers love TJ's aggressively low prices and stocks of tasty quick-to-prepare sauces, soups, frozen foods and so on (not to mention wine for a few dollars).
No one should be surprised these days at Toyota's home run with the hybrid Prius. Although Honda had released the first hybrid car to the U.S. a few years ago, it was the Prius that captured the public's imagination.
Honda is still a big player in the world of hybrids, and the brand continues to be associated with long life and good reliability, as well as high fuel economy.
Google, recently named the world's strongest brand, is well known for its internal culture of "don't be evil," and the company is now one of the world's largest investors in renewable energy. Google is blazing a trail in promoting electric vehicles, reducing energy use and much more.
Since respondents told Outlaw they are concerned about what goes in their bodies, it makes sense that they would also be concerned with what goes on their skin, especially considering that lipstick and other cosmetics essentially are ingested, albeit in small amounts. Studies have shown that chemicals in personal care products can absorb into the skin in the shower. Aveda has long been a leader in the field of botanical-based products, as well as high quality.
Zipcar has really caught the imagination of many urban dwellers. Not only does the service offer great convenience, but it frees people up from the many hassles of car ownership, from parking to taxes and insurance, maintenance and even high gas prices (gas is included!).
Many of the trendsetters surveyed expressed a high degree of interest in fashion and the way things look, and American Apparel has a distinctive style. Also, the Gen Yers respond well to minimalism in packaging and design, and that's something American Apparel excels in.
With a dollop of Swedish culture and emphasis on smart, affordable design, Ikea has won over many young people around the world. Again, the company stresses minimalism, reduced waste, economy of shipping and distribution, and quality (as well as charging for plastic bags). The company works to be transparent about its operations, and has done much to reduce off-gassing from harmful chemicals and obtain materials from sustainable sources.
One survey respondent pointed out that because she lives in a small apartment, she tries to take extra care to avoid toxic cleaning products. One of the leaders in that space is Seventh Generation, which makes natural cleaning products that work well, and approximate the conventional styles everyone is used to.
Another of the world's strongest brands, Apple has won points for focusing on functional design and high economy. After years of activist pressure, Apple has also worked hard to ramp up recycling programs.
The late Anita Roddick's Body Shop has introduced millions of young people to the complicated issues surrounding personal care, and how individual choices can add up to a better, more beautiful world.
Long controversial, Starbucks has put a lot of energy into projecting a green image, from working to help farmers protect forests to switching to paper products from plastic and more. The company, now battered in the marketplace, has received mixed reviews, though it is clear many do believe in what they are doing.
By reducing packaging and driving associated with home videos, Netflix has scored a big win for the environment. The company is also on the leading edge of innovation with digital content delivery.
San Francisco-based Method has won acclaim not only for its natural cleaning products, but its inspiring, provocative advertising campaigns.
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