A survey conducted by Havas Worldwide, an international marketing company, and published in December 2013 finds that consumers are placing greater emphasis than ever on how green and sustainable companies are when making product selections. The survey was conducted in 2012 and involved more than 10,000 respondents in 31 countries.

According to the researchers, these findings are coming at a time when consumers, both B2C and B2B, have more choices than ever when selecting products and services. The researchers labeled these proactive consumers as "prosumers," helping to differentiate them from more traditional, mainstream consumers.

Among the key findings are the following:

Around two-thirds of prosumers and half of mainstream consumers now consider a strong social media presence an important factor in brand reputation.

The concept of "buying local" has changed. A brand's location is less important than having a positive relationship with the communities it markets to, according to 87% of prosumers.

80% of prosumers and 65% of the mainstream believe that businesses bear as much responsibility as governments for driving positive social change. It's no longer acceptable to operate solely in service to one's profits.

86% of prosumers and 72% of consumers expect full disclosure on a whole host of subjects, from environmental impact to the treatment of workers. "Authenticity is the way to the consumer's heart," said the report.

A company's employees can make or break a brand; what employees say about a company online is more convincing than any advertising or news article, say 67% of prosumers and 53% of mainstream consumers.

"One of the overriding results of the survey is that most consumers now want brands to not only do good...but contribute to the effort," says Jennifer Meek, marketing director for Charlotte Products/Enviro-Solutions, which manufacturers Green-certified cleaning products. "This builds trust and, increasingly, trust can lead to sales."