Green credentials drive tech consumer decisions

18 Sep 2007, 09:59

The environmental credentials of technology products are having a major impact on consumers' purchasing decisions, according to a new survey from Ipsos.

The online survey of over 1,000 US consumers found that over half regard a technology product's environmental credentials as influential when making purchasing decisions.

Specifically, 57 percent rated the presence of the Energy Star label as influential, while 48 percent said that manufacturer's recycling policies would affect purchasing decisions.

Over a third of respondents identified six separate environmental issues as influential factors in purchasing decisions, highlighting the extent to which green factors are emerging as "a critical-mass consumer consideration", particularly amongst higher earners.

However, while pressure is mounting on technology companies to enhance their environmental credentials consumers do not yet appear to be using green factors to differentiate between brands.

When asked which technology brands they associated as being green respondents tended to opt for high-profile brands that they encounter regularly, such as Dell, HP, Microsoft, Apple, Sony and IBM, despite considerable differences in these vendors' environmental policies. Microsoft, Apple and Sony in particular managed to attain top spots in the ranking despite being heavily criticised by environmentalists in recent months for the environmental impact of some of their products and practices.

"It's something of a 'halo index,' in that there's precious little information available to consumers for them to really assess how green one tech firm is versus another," explained Todd Board, senior vice president of Ipsos Insight's media, entertainment and technology practice. "So when we see a Kodak, Sony or IBM emerge here, to some extent we're seeing more generalised brand affinity being transferred to this green dimension."

He added that this halo effect meant that while green factors were increasingly important to customers it would prove difficult for manufacturers to build a commercial advantage from the green technology trend.

"The interesting paradox for the market leaders, or those who would be, is that this may rapidly become a table-stakes expectation for many consumers – 'of course, I expect prominent brand X to care about the environment and act accordingly'," he  explained. "However, while this is emerging as a cost-of-entry issue, it isn't clear that any one tech firm can carve out sustainable differentiation around green behaviours and positioning."

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