Many companies have seized the opportunity to develop more environmentally friendly products in hope of attracting environmentally conscious consumers. Yet despite the significant increase in new green products and technologies, many of these consumers find free alternatives to purchasing green innovations. For example, instead of installing efficient home insulation consumers frequently make a conscious effort to wear sweaters and keep the thermostat below 20˚C in the winter.
Marketers are left wondering how those who choose the free alternative (i.e. turning off lights when you leave a room, walking instead of driving to work) differ from those who choose to purchase green innovations (i.e. energy-efficient lightbulbs, hybrid vehicles).
Johan Hansson (Umeå University) and colleagues set out to investigate the similarities and differences between those two types of behaviours. They distributed questionnaires to gasoline-fueled vehicle owners and hybrid vehicle owners in Sweden. The questionnaire, completed by 1,832 individuals, assessed consumers’ willingness to reduce driving compared to their willingness to purchase an environmentally friendly vehicle.
“... owners of environmentally friendly vehicles are less willing to give up driving altogether but are more willing to purchase another hybrid.”
The study showed that owners of environmentally friendly vehicles are less willing to give up driving altogether but are more willing to purchase another hybrid.
This finding suggests that hybrid owners are more content with their purchase. It also suggests that once individuals have made that initial green purchase, the product becomes integrated into their lives.
This is great news for marketing managers. When new technology leads to improvement of ecofriendly innovation, managers should keep current customers in mind — they are likely open to purchasing the new version.
But how do you convince the person who gave up driving to buy a new hybrid? Leverage those who have already bought a hybrid. Their satisfaction and willingness to buy again makes them excellent
communicators in persuading others to make the switch.
Although the research focused solely on gasoline-fueled and hybrid cars, there are many other green innovations researchers may want to study in order to determine if the findings are similar across various types of green innovations. Researchers may also want to follow consumers over a period of time to help gauge if these conclusions are consistent over time.
Jansson, Johan, Agneta Marell and Annika Nordlund. (2010). Green consumer behaviour: determinants of curtailment and eco-innovation adoption. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 27 (4), 358-370.
Jessica Kilcoyne and the NBS Team