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American Consumers take Sustainability to the Next Level

Thursday, Sep 24, 2015
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Today, SCA, the maker of the Tork brand of away-from-home hygiene products in North America, releases the results from its 7th Tork Green Business Survey. As a global pioneer working to make sustainability a more common practice in the marketplace, the Tork brand continues to offer its customers sustainable product solutions and greater visibility into consumer expectations through this annual assessment of consumers' green purchasing behaviors and motivations. This year, the survey found consumers are increasingly committed to purchasing products and services that have a less degrading impact on the environment and human health.  With an improved economy and a reduced unemployment rate, more American consumers (78 percent) say they purchase sustainable products and services compared to 2014 findings (75 percent). SCA commissioned Harris Poll to field an online survey among over 2,000 U.S. adults (aged 18+) in April 2015.

"The results of the study are profound and demonstrate that sustainability in the marketplace continues to grow. Since we began conducting this survey, the percentage of consumers who indicate that they do not purchase green products has decreased every year," said Mike Kapalko, sustainability marketing manager for SCA's North American away-from-home professional hygiene business. "These year-over-year changes signal a broader trend – sustainable purchasing habits are not a result of the same people purchasing more, but rather a new group of people buying these products for the first time. There is a groundswell of Americans who do not consider sustainability to be a fad, but rather a new paradigm of purchasing."

American consumers increasingly choose to make these environmental and health-conscious purchasing decisions and 26% say they know how to determine if a "green" claim/statement is true based on their own research. Nearly half (46%) of Americans will spend more money on purchases if they could be guaranteed of ethical and responsible manufacturing practices.

"Brands and companies hoping to gain market share in the coming years need to be aware of these consumer motivations," continued Kapalko. "As consumers grow increasingly inclined to use their purchasing power toward environmentally sound products and services, the availability of and competition between these products will also increase. Brands and companies not only need to consider offering these products, if they do not already do so, but also need to seriously consider how they position the products and services in the marketplace, as that will impact their success."

It is crucial that brands and companies keep a pulse on this trend in order to meet consumer demands and positively expand their business. According to the 2015 Tork Report, which explores sustainability in the B2B industry, 47 percent of businesses acknowledge that sustainability will be more important in the future.

"The connection in results from the 2015 Tork Green Business Survey and the 2015 Tork Report demonstrate the ongoing trend in the continued growth and importance of green products and services among both business and consumers," concluded Kapalko. "It is apparent that the movement is growing and will likely continue to do so in the coming years."

Changes in purchasing behavior

According to the 2015 Tork Green Business survey, more than three-quarters of American adults (78 percent) purchase green products and services. This represents an increase from last year, when 75 percent of Americans reported making green purchases. The number of Americans who do not make green purchases decreased in 2015 to 22 percent from 25 percent in 2014, demonstrating traction within new segments of the population. Millennials age 18-34 (24 percent) are more likely than Americans age 45+ (13 percent) to indicate that more of their purchases are green.

Interestingly, among those who purchase "green" products, those with a child under the age of 18 in their household (26 percent) are more likely to indicate that a more of their purchases are green than those without (20 percent).

Motivations for going green

Almost half (49 percent) of American consumers who purchase green products/services do so because it is better for the environment. Also among Americans who purchase green products/services, those without a child under 18 in their household (52 percent) are more likely to feel this way than those with a child under 18 in the household (41 percent). Meanwhile, 25 percent of millennials are motivated by health benefits.

Best Business Practice, from a Consumer Perspective

According to American adults, there are preferred ways for businesses to show their commitment to being green. The method with the greatest consensus (26 percent) is for businesses to show their commitment through designation on menus and store shelves for greener choices. One fifth (20 percent) feel businesses should display posters or flyers explaining how they are being green and one in six (14 percent) feel businesses should explain their green programs and information on websites to best communicate to customers.

Willingness to pay

Almost half (46 percent) of U.S. adults are willing to pay more for products if guaranteed of ethical and responsible manufacturing practices. In fact, three in ten (30 percent) would pay up to 10 percent more for these products and services than they do today. Millennials (61 percent) expressed a greater willingness to pay more than those aged 35+ (39 percent). And those with a child under 18 in their household (53 percent) are significantly more likely to pay more than those without a child under 18 (42 percent).

Looking Forward

When asked about their opinion of green products and services, nearly two in five (39 percent) American adults say that it is really just getting started. In addition, 38 percent believe green products and services are the new normal and "a required expectation," whereas only 12 percent believe it is a fad that will go away.

For more information or to request a copy of the survey results, please contact Mollie Young
(212) 445-8482 or myoung@webershandwick.com.

Survey Methodology

Harris Poll fielded the study on behalf of SCA Tissue from April 20th-22nd, 2015 via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,082 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older.  Results were weighted as needed for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with non-response, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100 percent response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the U.S. adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to be invited to participate in the Harris Interactive online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Tork
The Tork brand offers professional hygiene products and services to customers ranging from restaurants and healthcare facilities to offices, schools and industries. Products include dispensers, paper towels, toilet tissue, soap, napkins, and industrial and kitchen wipers. Through expertise in hygiene, functional design and sustainability, Tork has become a market leader. Tork is a global brand of SCA, and a committed partner to customers in over 80 countries. To keep up with the latest Tork news and innovations, please visit: torkusa.com or tork.ca.

About SCA
In North America, SCA produces the Tork line of dispensers, towels, tissue, soap, napkins and wipers used in commercial settings such as office buildings, restaurants, schools and healthcare facilities and the TENA® line of incontinence care products used by consumers at home and in healthcare facilities. TENA and Tork are the global leading brands in their categories. For more information visit www.sca.com/us.

Globally, SCA is a leading hygiene and forest products company. We develop and produce sustainable personal care, tissue and forest products. Sales are conducted in about 100 countries under many strong brands, including the leading global brands TENA and Tork, and many regional brands.  As Europe's largest private forest owner, we put great emphasis on sustainable forest management.  SCA has about 44,000 employees. Sales in 2014 amounted to $15 billion. SCA was founded in 1929, has its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, and is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Stockholm stock exchange. More information at www.sca.com.

Sustainability
SCA delivers sustainable solutions with added value for our customers from safe, resource efficient and environmentally sound sourcing, production and development. Recent third party accreditations for the SCA sustainability work include Dow Jones Sustainability Index 2013, the WWF Environmental Paper Company Index 2013, and Ethisphere – World's Most Ethical Companies 2014.

 

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