British Columbians Placing Less Emphasis on Environmental Factors in Store Choice Decision

BC retailers could be doing a better job at communicating their environmental actions as half of residents (46%) rate their performance as poor

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vancouver, BC – Results from Ipsos Reid's 2010 Retailers and the Environment Study reveals that fewer British Columbians view a retailer's environmental actions as a key factor in choosing where they shop compared to two years ago.

While a large majority of BC consumers (72%) feel that a retailer's environmental performance is an important consideration in their store decision (19% very important, 53% somewhat important), slightly fewer British Columbians feel this way compared to the past; 74% in 2009 (21% very important, 53% somewhat important) and 77% in 2008 (24% very important, 53% somewhat important).

Catherine Dawson, Vice President and head of Ipsos Reid's retail industry team in Vancouver explains, "There is no question that a large majority of BC residents believe it is important that retailers pay attention to the environment in their business practices. But fewer are feeling that way in 2010, and this likely reflects other issues being of greater importance today. It is typical to find that environmentalism becomes less key when the economy takes a turn for the worse and this may be the impact we are seeing here."

In addition to the softening in how British Columbians view the importance of retailers' environmental actions, a growing number of British Columbians feel ill-equipped to judge whether or not a retailer is doing a good job at preserving and protecting the environment. Over six in ten (62%) British Columbians indicate they can not judge a retailer's environmental performance very well (47%) or not at all well (15%) compared to about one third (32%) who feel they can judge a retailer's environmental performance very (3%) or fairly well (29%). Compared to 2009, 2010 results represents a decrease in the number who feel they could judge a retailer's performance very/fairly well (38%, 6 percentage points higher than 2010) and an increase in those who feel they cannot judge a retailer's performance very/not at all well (56%, 6 percentage points lower than 2010).

Even though a majority of British Columbians admit that they may not be the best judge on the issue, they continue to have high expectations for how BC retailers preserve and protect the environment and retailers have yet to improve perceptions in the past year. Less than half of British Columbians (44% in 2010, 45% in 2009) rate BC retailers' environmental performance as very good or good and about one in three (29% in 2010, 31% in 2009) give a poor or very poor rating. About one in four (27% in 2010, 24% in 2009) are not sure how they would rate BC retailers on their environmental performance.

It follows that nearly half of British Columbians (46%) feel that BC retailers could do a better job of sharing information about their environmental actions. About four in ten (38%) give BC retailers a poor rating and about one in ten (8%) give BC retailers a very poor rating on communicating about their actions to help preserve and protect the environment. Four-in- ten British Columbians (39%) feel that BC retailers are doing very good job (1%) or good job (38%) at communicating their environmental actions to British Columbians. The remaining 15% of British Columbians are not sure how to rate BC retailers' communications on environmental actions.

Catherine Dawson explains, "These results suggest that better communications on the part of retailers on their environmental actions may help improve consumers' ability to judge their actions, and ultimately improve their impressions of how good a job a retailer is doing when it comes to the environment".

This study is part of Ipsos Reid's 2010 Retail Trends in British Columbia Study which features regular special feature reports on current events in the retail industry. The study is available at a reduced price to all members of Shelfspace – the association for retail entrepreneurs in British Columbia.

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid study fielded from March 8 to 14, 2010. This online survey of 677 adult British Columbians was conducted using Ipsos Reid's proprietary "Voice of the West Interactive Forum" – an online panel of more than 5,000 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 +/- 3.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Catherine Dawson
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Reid
(778) 373-5003

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British Columbians Placing Less Emphasis on Environmental Factors in Store Choice Decision


Michael Rodenburgh
Executive Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Marketing