Green consumers' influence grows, Dentsu reports

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TOKYO -- Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Inc. has produced a report claiming that the number of "green consumers" who buy eco-friendly products is growing and that pitching a commitment to environmental protection is a good way for manufacturers to achieve brand recognition and improve their corporate image.

Dentsu argues that firms must work harder to show their commitment to environmental protection in order to keep up with the increasing influence of green consumers.

"The future will see rapid growth in the number of people who, in their purchases of goods, place a great importance on whether the product damages the environment, and such a consideration is likely to become a part of everyday behavior," the agency reports.

Consumers are ready to spend a little extra on products if they feel the money is going to goods that are more eco-friendly than competing goods, it says. Eco-friendly products also have a competitive advantage because consumers see those products as being advanced and high quality.

Dentsu has been conducting surveys on consumer awareness of environmental issues since 1991 in order to discover what form environmentally-oriented communication should take. Its most recent survey was conducted during October and November 1997.

According to the most recent research, the environment has become an everyday theme in advertising, and companies that engage in advertising that is environmentally-aware are also polishing their corporate image.

"Firms that conduct environmentally-aware advertising are judged as `carrying out their social responsibility and showing earnestness'," Dentsu says. Green consumers want companies to tell them about their commitments to conservation as well as to make information about recycling more accessible.

The survey also indicated that the number of consumers who saw environmentally aware advertising as being hypocritical has dropped over the years.

Dentsu itself has scored a big hit with its "Eco-project" advertising for Toyota. The campaign highlights Toyota products and efforts that help the environment. The Toyota Prius, with an emissionsreducing gasoline and electric engine, has enjoyed robust sales since it first hit the Japanese market about a month ago.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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