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Companies still keen on green despite economy

AMA-sponsored survey shows that interest in sustainability initiatives is as much about perception as responsibility, and so far, it is undeterred by economic woes.

Despite the economic downturn, companies are still planning to invest in long-term sustainability projects and want to make sure that their customers--and anyone else who asks-- knows it.

The American Marketing Association and public-relations firm Fleishman-Hillard sponsored a small survey (PDF) to determine whether companies were still keen to invest in sustainability practices despite economic downturn and what influenced them in their decision.

American Marketing Association/Fleishman-Hillard

To give you an idea of where the economy was when people were asked about their commitment, the survey was conducted by the AMA during January and February 2009, and included 270 people spread about equally throughout large, medium, and small businesses.

About 58 percent of participants said their company had plans to increase emphasis on sustainability initiatives over the next two to three years, and 43 percent said their company has plans to incorporate news of their green efforts in "marketing, advertising, and communications with external audiences."

American Marketing Association/Fleishman-Hillard

Answering another question, 73 percent agreed one motivator in adopting sustainability practices over the next two to three years is "corporate reputation."

Asked if President Obama's policies will accelerate the adoption of sustainability programs, 63 percent of the respondents said yes, 14 said they disagreed with that assessment, and 23 percent said they had no opinion on the matter.

"Forty-three percent of those surveyed say they will increase their focus on sustainability because it is the right thing to do, customers are asking for it, a sustainable approach supports their organizational culture and, equally important, sustainability offers a clear, distinct business advantage," the report said.

While the respondents seemed to have faith in their companies' commitment to sustainability--or at least wanted to appear to surveyors that they did--they were not as sure about the commitment from consumers.

About 49 percent disagreed with the sentiment that "even in tough times, consumers will pay more for products that are green."