Consumer Science

Mission & Goals

The role of the Consumer Science Working Group is to examine the perceptions of end consumers and professional buyers on the topic of sustainability and how these perceptions relate to their relationship with companies, brands, and products. Consumer Science research can be used to inform sustainability positioning and similar marketing and communication strategy.

Scope

The Consumer Science Working Group, formed in February of 2010, maintains a focus on end consumers, retail merchants and other professional buyers. In terms of geographic scope, the Working Group focuses on the United States and other international markets with a large customer base for the consumer packaged goods industry.

Research

The purpose of Consumer Science research is to link the technical work of The Sustainability Consortium to the people who will actually use sustainability information to guide their purchasing decisions. In order to gain consumer insights, the Working Group employs methods such as literature review, content analysis, social media scanning, qualitative interviews, focus groups and quantitative surveys.

Projects

Consumer Science Research Compendium

The relationships between consumers and sustainable consumer products and the implications of such relationships are comprehensively explored through Consumer Insights, Insights from Experts, Communication Guidelines, and Buyer Codes of Conduct:

  • Consumer Insights: Literature review of existing consumer findings from 2005-2010
  • Insights from Expert: Expert Delphi panel on sustainability positioning and communications, eco-labeling programs and behavioral change campaigns
  • Communication Guidelines: Content Analysis of existing claim and communication guidelines
  • Buyer Codes of Conduct: Content Analysis of existing Codes of Conduct used in buying decisions
Consumer Market Research to Support Sustainability Measurement and Reporting Standards

As TSC develops Sustainable Measurement and Reporting Standards, this research identifies the gaps that exist between the scientific perspective and that of the consumer. With concentration around current TSC sectors, this research focuses on sustainability impacts and life cycle analysis from the consumer perspective across thirty product categories with four primary goals:

  • Identify product impacts that consumers are most concerned with and motivated by
  • Size consumer understanding and response to sector SMRS developments
  • Identify who consumers trust and turn to for product sustainability information
  • Determine the high level communication dimensions that are most relevant and motivating for consumers
Merchants, Professional Buyers, and Purchasing Behavior

Research focused on how professional buyers, including merchants, use sustainability-related information about suppliers and products in their decision-making works to understanding how the selection of sustainable products and suppliers, and the evaluation of information used in this selection, is influenced by personal beliefs, social connections, and organizational guidelines and constraints.

Consumer-Facing Communication Vehicles

Experimental research examining different mechanisms & vehicles for communicating product-level sustainability information to consumers in order to determine what mechanisms will yield the highest usage rate and most accurate perception of benefit.

Participants

  • BASF
  • Best Buy
  • Carbon Trust
  • Cargill
  • Church & Dwight
  • Clorox
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Dairy Management Inc.
  • Earth Friendly Products
  • EPA
  • General Mills
  • Georgia Pacific
  • Henkel
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Kellogg’s
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • L’Oreal
  • Mars Inc.
  • MillerCoors
  • Monsanto
  • Novozymes
  • NSF International
  • Octal
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Safeway, Inc.
  • SC Johnson
  • Seventh Generation
  • Syngenta
  • The Walt Disney Company
  • Walmart

Working Group Contact

Thomas Redd

Euan Murray

Working Group Manager

Send an Email

Quick Facts
  • The three major themes of barriers to consumer action are: - (1) Inconvenience, (2) Cost, (3) Confusion (Colorblind & Communispace Talking to Consumers about the Environment)
  • 22% actually buy green products. (Deloitte, 2009. Web)
  • 63% of shoppers look for green products but only 47% of shoppers actually find green products.
  • 56.7% believe “green” claims but 52% are skeptical at times of “green” claims. (Rep. Burst Media, Jan. 2010)