A new green mobile phone study from Strategy Analytics has good news for manufacturers: Eco-minded consumers are willing to pay a premium for Earth-friendly mobile phones, as long as the devices are feature-rich and the intentions behind them are sincere.
Strategy Analytics surveyed 2,818 wireless device owners in the United States and Western Europe about their interest in purchasing a phone that has been manufactured in a sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly manner, and that has a low impact on the environment during use-or, for the purposes of this article, is “green”-as well as how much they would consider paying for such a phone and which companies they believe put a focus on the environment.
In Western Europe, 39 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they would be looking for a green phone, and 36 percent of U.S. respondents said the same. Even among this group, however, the top three ranking considerations when purchasing a mobile phone were battery life, ease of use and coverage.
Those same and equally eco-minded U.S. respondents, however, were willing to pay an average of $15 more for an eco-friendly phone than the average U.S. respondent.
“Consumers who will pay a premium for eco-friendly products are those with disposable income,” said Kevin Nolan, an analyst with Strategy Analytics’ User Experience practice.
“And these people want wow products,” added Nolan. “They have a taste for good design, and they likely already own fully featured smartphones, so they are very reluctant to go back to a low-spec mobile device.”
Nolan points to examples such as the Toyota Prius, which is “substantially more expensive than other vehicles in the same class,” and The Body Shop products as examples of how environmentally conscious consumers are willing to pay extra for products that meet their ethical standards.
Beware of Simply Paying Lip Service
But beware, greenwashers!
Paying lip service to environmental credentials, for purely short-term marketing gains, said Nolan, is a thing eco-consumers see through very quickly.
“They can easily backfire and become a [public relations] disaster,” he said.
Strategy Analytics additionally performed focus group interviews with 20 participants who claimed that environmental factors play an important role in their decision making.
The participants were asked to provide feedback on the Motorola MOTO W233 Renew, the Samsung E200 Eco and the Nokia 3110 Evolve, as well as an HDTV, an MP3 player and Fuji batteries.
Participants were critical of weak environmental claims and responded most favorably to high-end looks and features. They felt the feature set of the Motorola phone was much better than those on the Nokia or the Samsung.
“I would say the key take-away is that there is no shortcut to monetizing environmental sustainability,” said Nolan. “Eco-consumers want a mobile phone to be a winning product in terms of features, performance and style.”
Eco-friendly attributes will be the extra factor that can command a small, further premium from affluent purchasers who like that the product indicates their commitment to the planet. But those green attributes, said Nolan, are “just one more reason to justify buying a product that already satisfies their wants and desires in and of itself.”
Eco-friendly smartphones, said Nolan, “certainly would seem to be a great opportunity for OEMs.”