08/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Generation Y's 15 Favorite Eco-friendly Brands

Outlaw Consulting, a qualitative research firm that monitors popular trends amongst the generation Y age group, surveyed 100 panelist on their preferred eco-friendly brands. The young demographic favored fifteen green brands: Apple, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Toyota, Honda, Google, Aveda, Zipcar, American Apparel, Ikea, 7th Generation, the Body Shop, Starbucks, Netflix and Method.

While this list may not be composed of the greenest brands, the companies succeed in evoking an environmentally responsible message by using sustainable packaging and eco-friendly signage techniques. However, many question whether their vast youth appeal is a result of the companies initiatives to be more green or simply to greenwash their images.

"These are trendsetters in image categories ... not necessarily in issues of sustainability," said Outlaw Consulting in releasing its findings in its online newsletter. "While they are motivated to help the cause and are striving to educate themselves, they are far from experts. Our aim was to discover which companies are going beyond the niche segment of hard-core Greenies to win over influential Gen Y's."

Social Media and Green Living consulting firm Max Gladwell categorizes the environmentally conscientious teen into four types of green teen consumers:

* Living Green consumer: embraces the environmental lifestyle and is driven by dedication, purity and awareness.[...] She is most likely to be eating organic foods, finding new ways to use her old clothes, shopping at vintage and thrift shops, and buying clothes made of recycled fabrics."

* Core Fashionista consumer: is looking to build up the green in her fashion portfolio. While this shopper wouldn't be caught dead in a hemp dress or tire-tread sandals, she is rethinking and redefining her sense of style and eco-chic. She sees herself in a power position, and isn't a slave to any trend. She's picking and choosing, looking to make small modifications.

* Walking Green consumer: This teen is driven by wanting to belong to a greater community. These are trend followers.

* Spending Green consumer: The shopper who buys green clothes because that sense of exclusivity and entitlement are important to her. She embraced green when it was still very much a luxury category, and she intends to keep it that way. For her, buying green connotes luxury, not any kind of sacrifice.

Jupiter Research, a research analyst firm, found that 38 % of teenagers are "concerned about the environment," 15% consider themselves to be "hard core" environmental activists.

These "hard core" teens represent a choice target for green marketers: they are more likely to be "opinion leaders with their friends and family" and "first in the know about new products". Most interesting, hard core green teens are 30%+ more likely to make a purchase (either online of offline) in response to advertising than the average online teen.

One of the polled generation Y member reflects:

I respect companies that become green before the competition. It shows that they care and are making an effort to push for something they believe in, before it's necessary. It shows that they're a leader, and they should be recognized and respected for their effort."


::Bloggers Astri von Arbin Ahlander and Yelizavetta Kofman discuss Generation Y's consumerist nature on the Huffington Post.
:: More on greenwashing on the Huffington Post.
::More on green living from the Huffington Post.