Act Locally: Americas Greenest (and Brownest) Markets

Americans are adopting greener attitudes and greener ways of life, but there is a sizeable community that is avoiding and, at times, fighting the green revolution. According to an analysis by Experian Simmons that places consumers into one of four GreenAwareTM segments based on their attitudes and behaviors related to environmental issues, 35% of the U.S. adult population can be classified as Behavioral Greens.

This ‘greenest’ segment is comprised of individuals who generally think and act green; they have negative attitudes towards products that pollute and incorporate green practices on a regular basis. Since 2007—when this segment made up 30% of the adult population—the Behavioral Green market share has increased a relative 17%.

At the other end of the spectrum are True Brown consumers who are not environmentally conscious, and may have negative attitudes about environmental issues. In recent years, the True Brown segment has also, perhaps surprisingly, attracted new adherents. In fact, while 15% of the nation’s adult population today can be classified as True Browns, only 13% of adults were True Browns in 2007.

Potential Greens and Think Greens are the two middle-ground segments. Potential Greens comprise 28% of the population today, down from 34% in 2007. Adults in this segment neither behave, nor think along particularly environmentally conscious lines and remain on the fence about key green issues. Twenty-two percent of adults today are Think Greens, down from 23% in 2007. Think Greens, well, think green. However, thoughts don’t necessarily equate to green actions for these consumers.

Act Locally:

Environment groups urge consumers to ‘Think Globally’ and ‘Act Locally.’ As such, Experian Simmons has identified the local markets that have the highest concentrations of Behavioral Greens as well as those that have the highest concentrations of True Browns.

Behavioral Green Capitols:

America’s ‘greenest’ market, as determined by the concentration of Behavioral Greens, is the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California designated market area, or DMA. An estimated 2.7 million adults in the Bay-area—just over half of the area’s adult population—are Behavioral Greens. In fact, San Francisco-area denizens are fully 58% more likely than the average American to be among the country’s ‘greenest’ consumers. San Francisco DMA-residents are five percent less likely than average to be True Browns, but the area still counts and estimated 743, 897 True Brown consumers within its borders. Other green capitols include:

10 Greenest Markets in the U.S.
Behavioral Greens
True Browns
Index vs. National Average
Index vs. National Average
1 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose
2 Monterey-Salinas
3 Rockford
4 Albany-Schenectady-Troy
5 Green Bay-Appleton
6 Providence-New Bedford
7 Seattle-Tacoma
8 Ft. Myers-Naples
9 Utica
10 New York
Source: Experian Simmons

True Brown Capitols:

The area with the highest concentration of True Brown consumers is the Colorado Springs-Pueblo, Colorado DMA. In fact, residents here are 40% more likely than average to be True Browns. An estimated 137,925 True Browns call Colorado Springs and the surrounding area home. Despite the area’s above average concentration of True Browns, Behavioral Greens still outnumber True Browns in and around Colorado Springs. There are over 218,000 adults in the area are Behavioral Greens. Other True Brown capitols include:

10 Brownest Markets in the U.S.
True Browns
Behavioral Greens
Index versus national average
Index versus national average
1 Colorado Springs-Pueblo 137,925 140 218,198 100
2 Sherman-Ada 48,973 135 68,410 85
3 Pittsburgh 436,763 132 807,086 111
4 Cleveland-Akron 572,396 132 794,784 83
5 Cedar Rapids-Wtrlo 129,297 131 219,192 100
6 Toledo 155,138 130 166,425 63
7 (tie) Reno 96,522 127 200,009 119
7 (tie) Glendive 1,417 127 1,560 63
7 (tie) Boise 97,327 127 164,287 97
7 (tie) Oklahoma City 249,216 127 324,389 75
Source: Experian Simmons

Divided towns:

Among the ten ‘greenest’ markets, six also have above average concentrations of True Brown consumers, including Rockford, Illinois; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York; Green Bay-Appleton, Wisconsin; Seattle-Tacoma, Washington; Fort Meyers-Naples, Florida; and Utica, New York. Likewise, two of the top ten True Brown markets also have above average concentrations of Behavioral Greens. These include Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Reno, Nevada. These locales with populations skewing above average at both ends of the environmental spectrum make them prime grounds for battles between the nation’s environmentalists and their rejecters.

Madison, Wisconsin is one of the markets with a high polarization between True Browns and Behavioral Greens. Specifically, the area has a 28% above average concentration of Behavioral Greens, when compared to the nation at large. It also has a 23% above average concentration of True Browns. (Think Greens are also over represented in Madison, but Potential Greens are severely under represented, allowing for all other segments to have higher than average concentrations.)

Mapping out concentrations of each segment in Madison, we can see ZIP code by ZIP code which neighborhoods are green to the core, which are predominantly brown and those where Behavioral Greens and True Browns co-mingle.

ZIP code 53703: True Brown territory

In Madison proper, one area with above average concentrations of True Browns and below average concentrations of Behavioral Greens is ZIP code 53703. The Wisconsin State Capitol building is located in this area as are numerous other city and state facilities. In 53703—one of the city’s most densely populated areas—residents are 27% more likely than the average Madison-area adult to be True Browns and eight percent less likely to be Behavioral Greens.

ZIP code 53713: Behavioral Greens Zone

Environmentalists looking for friendly territory need not travel far from downtown. A drive out to the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, for instance, will not only put them in direct contact with nature, but also with other Behavioral Greens. While it’s unlikely to find people actually residing in the Arboretum, there are plenty of Behavioral Greens outside the area in ZIP code 53713. Residents of this ZIP code are four percent more likely than average to be Behavioral Greens and 10% less likely to be True Browns.

ZIP code 53705: Opposites attract

A good place to find Madisonites with opposing points of view living as neighbors is ZIP code 53705. This lake-front area is home to many University of Wisconsin facilities as well as residential neighborhoods. Adults who reside in ZIP code 53705 are five percent more likely than average to be Behavioral Greens and equally likely as the average Madison-area resident to be True Browns.

ZIP code 53706: Somewhere in the middle

Madison residents who are somewhere in between the polar opposites of True Browns and Behavioral Greens are likely to call ZIP code 53706 home. Residents of this area of town dominated by the University of Wisconsin campus are 27% less likely to be Behavioral Greens and 63% less likely to be True Browns. Settling somewhere in between must sound nice in a polarized town.

Learn more about how Experian Simmons can help you develop superior target techniques to identify consumers coast to coast or ZIP code by ZIP code.