Survey: Environment Skeptics Being Replaced by “Glamour Greens”

The segment, while not new, is driven by the rise of social media.

3D render of planet Earth viewed from space, with night lights in Europe and sun rising over Asia. Blue hue treatment. Elements from NASA (https://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/57000/57752/land_shallow_topo_2048.jpg)

New York, NY—Environment skeptics are fading fast. Taking their place: “Glamour Green” consumers, going green for status.

That’s the finding from the latest Green Gauge study from GfK, which, in its 11th year, tracked environmental actions and attitudes in 18 countries. A press release on the topic explains that, thanks to the rise of Instagram and TikTok, authentic action and for-show action are blurring together. Environmentally conscious action is now uploaded to social media, where—whether it was originally authentic or not—it becomes part of a person’s online image, delineating their status within their digital community. The proportion of Glamour Greens in the U.S. has doubled since 2010, according to the Green Gauge study, and rose nine points in the past year alone, driven almost entirely by young adults ages 15-39.

By contrast, skeptics represent just 22% of U.S. consumers today, a steep drop from the 38% this portion held in 2010—but still the fifth largest number of Jaded consumers, proportionally speaking, amongst the 18 countries surveyed.

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Pro-environment U.S. consumers, looking to buy sustainable goods, make up 69% of the populations. GfK splits them into three categories:

  • Glamour Greens, who are eager to showcase their eco-friendly action as status symbols
  • Green InDeeds, the most active in environmental work, making up 11% of the U.S. population
  • Carbon Cultured, pro-environment people who are likely to focus mostly on “easy” behaviors, making up 20% of the U.S. population.

“The byproducts of climate change and environmental degradation are impacting individuals on a more personal and real basis,” said Tim Kenyon, Vice President at GfK Consumer Life and head of the GfK Green Gauge research program. “This is quickly loosening the resistance to environmental concern and giving way to an openness to behavior change – but people’s actions do not always match their words. For marketers, this means the sustainability narrative is clearly evolving. While many brands understand the basics, the Green Gauge report is a forward-leaning strategic playbook for sustainability.  Marketers can use this tool for connecting with their consumer targets, wherever they may sit on the sustainability spectrum.”