Environmental friendliness is becoming more top-of-mind for US consumers when making technology-related purchase decisions, but whether a product is ‘green’ or not is still unimportant to the majority of consumers making small-ticket tech purchases, according to the annual Green Technology report from Ipsos Media CT.
Small-Ticket Items Get Less Green Consideration
The study found that, despite more significant environmental-impact consideration for big-ticket items such as automobiles and large household appliances, at least three-fourths of consumers still do not consider environmental issues when purchasing smaller-ticket technology items, such as gaming consoles, MP3 players, small household appliances and cellphones.
However, Ipsos suggested that today’s economic crisis might be helping to bring consumers around to considering the environment with smaller purchases. The study found that when making technology purchase decisions, consumers appear to be most swayed by features that claim to reduce energy consumption – and therefore the overall cost of use.
Nearly three in four consumers claim that devices that are ‘Energy Star’ efficient, and devices that do not drain energy, would influence their purchase decisions.
The study also found that one in three consumers say they are willing to pay more for a green positioned product, and more than two-thirds (67%) of respondents say free electronic recycling programs offered by the manufacturer/retailer would influence their decision when making a technology purchase.
Despite these promising numbers, however, only 38% say they are aware of such programs and only 8% say they have taken part in them, according to the study.
Apple, Microsoft, Google Rate Highest
The report also found that awareness of major tech companies’ environmental initiatives is increasing but still remains low, as does overall knowledge about any specific policies or practices these major players have in place.
Approximately four in 10 consumers still do not associate any major technology brand tested with having green or environmentally friendly business practices. This does, however, represent progress since 2007, when 55% did not associate any technology companies with green practices.
In terms of consumer association with overall environmental friendliness, the top-rated companies in the study are Apple, at 24%, Microsoft, at 21%, and Google, also at 21%. But even though these firms scored at the top of the list, fewer than one in four consumers associates any one of them with environmentally friendly business practices. Even fewer are aware of specific policies.
The lack of awareness is most pronounced for Intel, which Ipsos said is well known by environmental experts for policies of renewable energy, a focus on energy efficiency of their products, and reducing waste and use of toxic materials, Ipsos noted. However, only 7% of US consumers associated Intel with having environmentally friendly business practices or policies, highlighting the lack of consumer awareness.
At the other end of the spectrum, Electronics firm LG has made the most progress in changing consumer perception since 2007, Ipsos said. LG moved from 6% association with environmentally friendly policies in 2007, to 18% in 2009.
Consumers Vague on Details
Findings that most Americans remain vague on the details about specific companies’ ‘green programs come despite ongoing efforts by the companies themselves, and the accolades they receive in the media.
A recent story in Newsweek released ratings of the top US Green companies, ranked Fortune 500 firms based on policies and programs put in place to lessen the overall environmental impacts of their business processes and product consumption. The story examined the reputation of these firms among CEOs, academics, and environmental experts. Green ratings among this group were dominated by well-known technology firms, and led by top computer manufactures HP and Dell, due in part to their leadership in reducing emissions, removing toxic substances and reduced energy
Ipsos said that this lack of awareness despite continued efforts to be more environmentally responsible suggests a communications gap between tech firms and consumers. “Technology firms don’t have particularly strong consumer ratings regarding green initiatives,” says Mike Bellmont, SVP, Ipsos MediaCT. “A lot of work has been done to build and institute environmental policies and processes but the information still needs to reach consumers in terms they can relate to.
About the study: The Ipsos Green Technology Report is in its third year of tracking and monitoring green attitudes and purchase behaviors of online American as they relate to technology brands and products. The survey covers perceptions of technology brands, awareness among a variety of green business practices and policies, the impact that being green has on technology related purchase decisions, and other topics including green perceptions of retailers, willingness to pay for green positioned products, and trusted
sources of consumer information and ratings.