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Survey: U.S. consumers go for 'green' products

Posted: 07 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:green products? U.S. consumers? consumer survey?

A survey from market research firm Ipsos Insight found that green products and practices are keys to technology branding and consumer preferences.

The firm released survey results that show green factors are "emerging as a critical-mass consumer consideration." However, the ability to claim green leadership is fragmented in the industry, according to the survey.

"As these green issues emerge as more mainstream considerations, what's striking is their overall consistency regardless of age, gender, income, or where people live," Todd Board, senior VP of Ipsos' media, entertainment and technology practice, said in a prepared statement. "So the influence of these environmentally friendly purchase factors is a bit more prominent among more socially influential consumers."

Green influence
More than half of consumers (57 percent) who were asked to rate the importance of six green practices that influence their tech purchase preferences said the Energy Star label is influential. Forty-eight percent said that manufacturer commitment to environmentally friendly disposal practices influenced their purchasing preferences, while 45 percent said that meeting U.S. Environment Protection Agency standards for product disposal influenced their preference.

More than one-third of the respondents rated each of the other three factors as influential. They include: green energy inputs to production, manufacturing that incorporates recycled components, and contributions to environmental causes.

Respondents also ranked a long list of brands for environmentally friendly business practices. Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Apple ranked in the first tier. Kodak, Sony, Gateway, IBM and Motorola ranked in the second tier.

"To some extent, the rank order of these brand mentions seems to mirror their prominence in the tech landscape, if you factor in Apple's increased exposure in recent years," Board said. "At the same time, 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. So when we see a Kodak, Sony or IBM emerge here, to some extent we're seeing more generalized brand affinity being transferred to this green dimension. Of all the brands here who might see an unexpected opportunity, Gateway may be the most intriguing."

Important issue
Board said that the results and other data lead him to believe that environmental practices are emerging as an issue important enough for technology companies to take notice, even though they're unlikely to be a universal factor soon.

He added that brands with U.S. headquarters received more prominent green mentions. "Japan-based Sony is the only exception. These U.S.-based brands have manufacturing and R&D facilities deployed globally, dealing with a highly variable patchwork of local expectations regarding environmentally friendly practices. This suggests that as American consumers increasingly value green tech practices, and have related expectations for U.S.-based tech brands, it's increasingly important for these brands to monitor their environment-oriented practices worldwide. When that article inevitably hits the newswires about their manufacturing in a faraway place, they want it to be good news."

The findings are based on polls of about 1,200 American adults online April 3 through April 6.

- K.C. Jones

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