Although awareness of “green” consumer electronic (CE) offerings lags behind sectors like household products and automobiles, 33 percent of consumers say they expect to make some type of green CE purchase within the next two years, according to new data released by the Consumer Electronics Association.
“Going Green: An Examination of the Green Trend and What it Means to Consumers and the CE Industry,” which will be released on Dec. 19, finds that 89 percent of households want their next television to more more energy efficient.
According to the study, price and features continue to be the primary purchase drivers for CE products, but green attributes will increasingly be a factor. The study found that 53 percent of consumers say they would be willing to pay some type of premium for televisions with green attributes.
The study also finds consumers desire an easy way to determine if a product meets environmental standards, such as logos and descriptions printed on the product packaging.
An online sample of 960 adults were surveyed for the study.
A November report released by GreenFactor found that consumers in the U.S. have completely different ideas about green electronics than those in Japan.
Key Findings from CEA:
• Familiarity with green terminology is high for established terms such as recyclable (86%) or energy efficiency (76%), but lower for emerging terms such as carbon footprint (33%).
o Awareness of green labels and logos follows a similar pattern. Eighty-two percent of online adults recognize the Energy Star logo and 86% recognize the recycling arrows, but only 16% recognize the certified organic product logo.
• Consumers are most familiar with green offerings in the household products category, the food category, and the vehicle category. In each case, the quantity of offerings, length of time on the market, or the notoriety of product offering have contributed to the high familiarity rates.
o Awareness of appliances with green attributes tops awareness of computers with similar attributes (50% vs. 17%). This also stems from how these two product categories are sold, with consumers having more experience evaluating the energy efficiency of appliance purchases than PC purchases.
• Does heightened green awareness translate to a higher level of engagement in green behaviors? In some cases yes, and in other cases, it appears things are headed in the right direction but the there is room for improvement.
o For example, 87% of consumers say they turn room lights off when not in use, while 62% say they recycle household trash (i.e. cans) always or usually.
o Women tend to be more green than men: For example, 66% of women say they always shut off lights when not in use compared to 52% of males. Men and women recycle at about the same rates though.
o For a basket of CE products (TVs, computers, phones, VCRs), consumers report a 26% increase in recycling of the devices from 2005 to 2007.
o The teenage segment of the population exhibits fewer green behaviors. About 4 in 10 turn off the lights when not in use and about one-third recycle.
• Attitudinal data reveals consumers have varying degrees of concern over the environment. Fifty-five percent of consumers consider themselves to be environmentally conscious, while only 44% of teens fall into this category.
o 74% believe companies should do more to protect the environment, but only 53% think their personal actions have a significant impact on the environment.
• Over half (55%) of consumers plan to engage in more environmentally friendly behaviors over the next 12 months.
• Several factors influence consumers’ decision to engage or not engage in green behaviors. When asked why they would engage in green behaviors, consumers are most likely to respond by saying ‘it’s the right thing to do,’(69%) followed by ‘saving money.’(63%) This suggests companies must appeal to consumers’ desire to do the right thing but also their pocketbook.
o Those that haven’t or won’t engage in green behaviors cite cost (which raises a red flag as a perception problem) or simply ‘they didn’t think about it.’ This is another example of where it needs to be simple and easy – if consumers have to think too much or do too much, it may be a deterrent.
Green Confusion and Suspicions
• Suspicions and confusion of green claims do exist. The majority of consumers say they are at least somewhat unfamiliar with the green attributes of the products they purchase. Additionally, about half of consumers express suspicion regarding the green claims made by some companies.
o Sixty-five percent of consumers think some companies are overstating how environmentally friendly their products are in order to sell more.
o The data suggests males are more suspicious of exaggerated green claims than females.
o Some of this stems from confusion over what green actually means and how green claims are validated. Certainly, there are probably some cases of ‘greenwashing’ but that’s not the whole story.
Green as a Product Attribute
• Cars top the list of products for greening. Seventy-three percent feel it is important for cars to have environmentally friendly attributes, whereas 65% feel the same about consumer electronics. Home furnishings (47%) and clothing (44%) are viewed as the least important product types to be green.
• While price and feature sets are most important to consumers when deciding on what CE products to purchase, 57% of consumers indicated that the environmentally friendly attributes of a product will be important to their next purchase decision.
Green CE Defined
• Top five attributes consumers feel green CE should possess: recyclable packaging (68%), recyclable product (64%), energy efficient product (62%), packaging made with recycled materials (57%) and biodegradable packaging (53%).
• Ten percent of consumers indicate having purchased some type of green CE device over the past 12 months, and 6% have purchased a green CE accessory product. Green CE purchases are dominated by early adopters (18% CE device purchase, 12% CE accessory purchase).
• Consumers want an easy way to determine if and why a product is green. The majority (59%) want to know the specific attributes that make a CE product green, while 41% only want to know whether it is or isn’t.
• Logos and descriptions are cited as desired vehicles for establishing green credentials.
• About one-third of consumers expect to make some type of green CE purchase over the next 12 months.