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Whole Foods leads green brands, according to consumers


Consumers have named Whole Foods the top green brand in a survey that pitted the grocery chain against companies spanning just about every sector.

The survey, conducted by Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland, compared companies’ actual “greenness” to consumers’ perceptions. Whole Foods, for example, received a reputation score of 77.5, the highest on the list. But Newsweek gave the upscale grocer an overall score of 61.2 on its Green Rankings survey, producing a 16.3 discrepancy between public opinion and actual green practices.

Whole Foods, which has long trumpeted its commitment to environmental sustainability, falls into the survey’s “winners” category – those brands with strong green practices that are publicly recognized for these efforts.

It’s one of four categories that companies were lumped into after researchers analyzed poll results. There are also "free passers", which aren’t especially green, but have “strong brand halos that drive their green reputation.” Unsung heroes are green brands with little public awareness, and "losers", which are defined as those companies whose limited green practices are widely known.

“The four distinct brand segments we uncovered give valuable insight into the connection, or lack thereof, between brand behaviours and consumer perceptions,” Alex Braun, vice-presisent of Penn Schoen Berland notes in an interview with Marketing Daily. “We know that brands can no longer act in quiet isolation, which is why gauging how consumers perceive their initiatives is so important.”

The biggest unsung hero on the list is Citigroup. Its reputation score of 49.7 is a full 23 points lower than its green score. Other companies who aren't recognized for their strong green practices include Nokia, Fujitsu, HSBC and BMW.

Free passers include Tyson Foods, Loews, Energizer Holdings, Chipotle Mexican Grill, J.M. Smucker, Wynn Resorts and Murphy Oil. Tyson Foods, the world's second largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, takes the first spot as worst greenwasher in this survey. Its reputation score was 28.5 points higher than its green score.

Among the losers: Philip Morris International, Halliburton, Charles Schwab, Coach, Exxon Mobil and Public Storage.

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