Green Products Sell Despite Doubts of Efficacy: Survey

A survey found green IT products are most likely to be bought by men, though overall interest in green products is growing.

A new survey of more than 6,800 online U.S. adults aged 18 or older revealed that although a vast majority of respondents (89.4 percent) incorporate some level of greenness into their daily lives, there is an undercurrent of doubt when it comes to green advertising claims and product efficacy.

Burst Media, a provider of targeted Internet audiences to brand and performance advertisers, conducted the survey on consumer perceptions of green marketing in March 2011.

Skepticism is most noted when consumers were asked their opinion of the effectiveness of green products as compared with their conventional counterparts. Only one-fifth (19.3 percent) of all respondents think green products work better than their conventional counterparts, and two in five (39 percent) think they work the same. One-quarter (24.4 percent) weren't sure, and 11.3 percent thought green products work worse.

Consumer uncertainty also exists when evaluating the green claims made in advertising. Although a majority (59.6 percent) of respondents believe green claims made in advertising to some extent, a sizable minority (23.7 percent) either never believed or find green claims to be confusing or misleading.

There is some good news for marketers: Despite a slight majority (54.1 percent) of respondents saying green products are priced too high, seven in 10 (68.6 percent) said they are either very or somewhat likely to purchase a product advertised or promoted as being green or environmentally friendly. Only 16 percent said they're either very or somewhat unlikely to purchase a product promoted as being green, and 7.3 percent said they're not at all likely to purchase such products.

Women are more likely than men to say they would purchase a product advertised or promoted as being green; 74.1 percent versus 62.8 percent, respectively.

Respondents cite many reasons for incorporating some level of greenness into their daily lives; the clear leader is that being green is "good for the environment" (60.5 percent). Other reasons cited for pursuing green values include to impact the future (46.6 percent), to live a better quality of life (43.6 percent), it's good for the community (42.2 percent), a desire for a healthier body (38.9 percent), a desire to live simply and use less (37.2 percent), and a desire to make a difference (36.9 percent).

To help live greener lives, respondents said the Internet is their top resource (34 percent) for gathering information on green initiatives and products. The Internet is the leading media resource for green information for respondents under the age of 55 years; however, among those over 55, print media takes the top spot (29.2 percent), followed closely by the Internet (25 percent) and television (24.4 percent).

The green topics most commonly sought online are healthy recipes (40.9 percent), recycling (33.6 percent), simple living (29.0 percent) and natural remedies (28.8 percent). For both men and women, healthy recipes and recycling are among the top four green information areas sought-however, below these two topics a different story emerges. Women search for more lifestyle-focused information such as natural remedies (36.2 percent) and simple living (33.2 percent), while men seek out more technical information, including green technologies (28.5 percent) and alternative energy (27.7 percent).

"To best connect with audiences and move them toward action, advertisers should first understand the green messaging cues that resonate with their target," said Mark Kaefer, marketing director at Burst Media. "By marrying the right messaging with the full range of rich media and video units available on the Web, an advertiser can promote creative interactivity and social interaction, and encourage respondents to learn as much as they can about green product offerings."