Consumer understanding of green terms

Start date:
October 2009
March 2010

In February 2011, Defra published its revised guidance on the use of green claims. The guidance was informed by research to understand how consumers perceive and react to 'green terms'.

Researching people's understanding of language is a particularly complex challenge. The context within which green language occurs – which product it refers to, the link to particular brands, the presence or otherwise of images, and so forth – can make a material difference to the meaning attached to particular terms. This research aimed to incorporate an assessment of the role played by this contextual information into the research programme. 

Our proposal – which came from a team that had already been significantly involved in researching green claims – involved a detailed design phase leading into three research strands.

Phase 1
A series of 12 focus groups, recruited in line with Defra's environmental segmentation model, providing a rich source of qualitative data on responses to particular terms and the impact of the context in which they are relayed.

Phase 2
An online survey of 2,000 UK adults, using prompt material and a split sample to test and compare responses to particular terms in different contexts.

Phase 3
A rapid review of relevant literature, conducted in parallel with phases one and two, examined the consumer research evidence base to ensure any existing work was incorporated rather than duplicated.

The final report and supplementary reports are available for download in the centre column.

Note: This was a joint project between Brook Lyndhurst, Icaro Consulting and Sauce.

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