British Columbians Paying Less Attention to Retailers' Environmental Actions

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vancouver, BC – In anticipation of Earth Day on April 22nd, Ipsos Reid conducted the annual 2011 Retailers and the Environment Study among adult British Columbians to assess retailers' actions in helping to preserve and protect the environment.

Results of this year's survey show retailers' environmental actions are playing less of a role year-over-year in store choice decision. Even though a majority of BC consumers (67%) currently feel a retailer's environmental actions are an important consideration when deciding where to shop, significantly fewer feel this way than in previous years (16% very important, 51% somewhat important). This is compared to 72% in 2010 (19% very important, 53% somewhat important), 74% in 2009 (21% very important, 53% somewhat important) and 77% in 2008 (24% very important, 53% somewhat important).

Ipsos Reid's retail industry team Senior Vice President, Catherine Dawson, explains the survey results: "It is typical for other issues, like the environment, to decline in importance when concerns about the economy are stronger and this likely was happening in 2010 when we witnessed declining environmental concerns. However, it appears that in 2011 the environment has not returned to the forefront of many consumers' consideration set despite an improving economy."

Despite the fact that a declining number of BC consumers consider the environment when deciding where to shop, there is actually a growing number that feel they are not able to judge whether a retailer has done a good or poor job in helping to preserve and protect the environment. Nearly seven-in-ten BC consumers admit they are ill-equipped to judge retailers on this aspect (67%, of which 15% not at all well, 52% not very well), versus three-in-ten who feel they can judge retailers' environmental actions well (28%, of which 2% very well, 26% somewhat well). Fewer in 2010 (62%, of which 15% not at all well and 47% not very well) and 2009 (56%, of which 12% not at all well and 44% not very well) indicated that they are not good judges of retailers' environmental initiatives.

Catherine Dawson continues, "These results suggest that the decline in importance we are seeing is not because consumers are feeling better educated about retailers' performance but instead are part of a more general decline in how much this issue matters to them."

Perhaps due to their lack of ability to judge retailers, when asked how they would rate retailers in BC overall on how well they perform in helping to preserve and protect the environment, more BC consumers simply don't know. This year, more than one-third of BC consumers are unsure of how retailers' perform (36%). This is compared to less than three-in- ten in 2010 (27%) and slightly less than one-quarter in 2008 (24%).

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.

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid study fielded from March 28 to April 3, 2011. This online survey of 654 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 +/- 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 Paying Less Attention to Retailers' Environmental Actions


Michael Rodenburgh
Executive Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Marketing