Paul Holmes 31 Oct 2009 // 12:00AM GMT
Environmentally friendly policies and programs are becoming more top of mind for U.S. consumers when making technology-related purchase decisions, but few are aware of specific policies, according to the annual Ipsos Green Technology report, which shows that few technology purchasing consumers are aware of specific environmental policies and practices of technology firms, despite the efforts of companies and the accolades in the media.
“Technology firms don’t have particularly strong consumer ratings regarding green initiatives,” says Mike Bellmont, senior vice president with Ipsos MediaCT, the sponsor of the research. “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.”
Consumer awareness remains low, despite stories such as a recent Newsweek article ranking the top U.S. Green companies, based on policies and programs put in place to lessen the overall environmental impacts of their business processes and product consumption. Green ratings were dominated by well known technology firms, led by top computer manufactures HP and Dell, due in part to their leadership in reducing emissions, removing toxic substances and reduced energy consumption.
But U.S. consumer awareness of environmental policies and programs is still low for many companies. Roughly four in 10 consumers did not associate any technology brand tested with having green or environmentally friendly business practices. However, there has been progress since 2007, when 55 percent did not associate any technology companies. Even Apple and Microsoft, rated greenest, were associated with environmentally-friendly business practices by fewer than one in four consumers.
The lack of awareness is most pronounced for Intel, which 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. However, only 7 percent of U.S. consumers associated Intel with having environmentally friendly business practices or policies, highlighting the lack of consumer awareness.
“We have seen some brands make significant improvements in their green perceptions since we began tracking, with LG as the biggest mover since 2007—this suggests that brands can impact their perception through their policies and messaging,” explains Bellmont.
The survey results show that the proportion of consumers who claim they investigated or considered the environmental aspects of their purchase remains low overall; with fewer than half saying they considered these issues in their most recent purchase. Consumers remain more inclined to consider the environmental impact when purchasing big ticket items, such as automobiles and large household appliances.
According to Bellmont, “With the exception of a few dedicated consumers, green considerations have yet to significantly impact smaller technology decisions such as mobile phones and MP3 players, but we expect that to change over time.”
When Ipsos MediaCT asked consumers to rate the impact that specific green practices and policies might have on their technology purchase decisions, results show that consumers are impacted most by environmental policies and features which claim to reduce energy consumption, and therefore the overall cost of use.
“One in three consumers say they are willing to pay more for a green positioned product, so these perceptions can positively impact the bottom line for companies in the technology sector,” concludes Bellmont. “Green has been a widely used buzz word over the past several years, and the technology industry is no exception. As consumers continue to value green initiatives and become more aware of the green programs technology companies have in place, manufacturers and retailers of tech products and services will have an opportunity to leverage green practices as a competitive advantage.”