Will Green Hype Lead To Consumer Complacency?

by | Sep 11, 2007

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When marketers, designers, gurus, and pundits hype the idea that Main Street must be going green because Eco Product X is selling surprisingly well, they frame the larger debate in a particular way by ignoring contradictory consumer behavior and give the impression that the marketplace is already solving eco-problems, Rob Walker writes in a Boston Globe article.

Walker points to a news story on the large number of Toyota Prius cars that have been sold and how the figure has been used to announce the arrival of a green tipping point. But as Walker notes, another recent article reports that luxury SUV sales have held steady, accounting for 28 percent of new-vehicle sales. “That’s a big number, particularly at a moment when Main Street, USA, is supposedly green-crazy, and gas prices have been consistently high,” Walker writes. At a time when Honda was dropping its Hybrid Accord due to poor sales, Ford saw Expedition sales shoot up 20 percent through May.

According to Walker, rah-rah coverage and the plethora of surveys that point to green tipping points, give the impression that we’ll all be safe without having to make sacrifices and without the need for pesky regulations.

In May, a MarketingProfs article floated the idea that the speedy mass production of green branding could deplete the niche’s ability to resonate with a larger marketplace and carve an enduring place in conventional consumers’ purchase patterns, making the green movement a fad that will revert back to the fringe.

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