People would buy green products if ecommerce showed they how

Green ShoppingThis blog was founded on the premise that people want to know more about green – green living, environmental issues, innovative solutions that creative minds have come up with regarding climate change issues and more. And hopefully it’s lived up to you the reader’s expectations in that regard.

I read a great article by journalist Chelsea Harvey detailing a new study showing that consumers would purchase more green, eco-friendly products and services if only they were given the options on how and/or where to do it. This included things from purchasing carbon offsets – how many of us really know how to do that? – to products that have the lowest carbon output of greenhouse gas emissions.

And – surprise, surprise – research showed that if given enough information, they even chose to buy a product that was higher priced, something that many in the media and/or some polls have said consumers wouldn’t do.

What’s interesting is that the study’s lead author Steven Isley, a behavioral scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, said companies usually have access to data about the carbon footprints of the products and services they sell. The problem, he says, is that retailers don’t always make this information available to consumers. So how would we really be able to make really informed, “green” choices?

Researchers designed experiments to see how green consumers choices would be.They created fake (but realistic-looking) versions of the online interfaces for four companies: Amazon Prime, Uber, Netflix and Airbnb. They then asked participants to use those interfaces and act as it they were real customers making real purchases.

green consumersFor example, for the Netflix experiment, participants were given the option to choose standard definition, high-definition or ultra-high definition content, along with information about the carbon footprint of each option. For Airbnb, the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient listings in the experiment were noted with a special leaf icon, so consumers would know they were the greenest choices.

What researchers found was when the carbon footprints of the streaming options were explained in terms of equivalent miles driven in a vehicle, the result was a 24 percent reduction in the carbon footprints of the videos consumers chose to watch. And the researchers also found that the Airbnb participants were willing to pay slightly more for listings with the environmentally friendly designation.

Very interesting. For folks who strive to continually live a green lifestyle, wouldn’t it make sense to have all the information about a product you’re considering buying beforehand? Along with its style, brand and price, in our ever-growing green-focused consumer economy, how many of us would choose the greener options? It’s an intriguing thought.

Like so much else we consumers face, having all the information we need will come with consumer demand to have it.

As Harvey noted, “the only way to find out for sure how consumers would behave in real life would be for real companies to conduct real tests by experimentally making these types of options available to their customers.”

The more we speak up, the more retailers and manufacturers listen. It’s time we had the choice – all the information we need – to be even more informed consumers. Time to speak up folks!

One Response

  1. I agree and hold on because this next generation is planted in good soil.

    Combining the electronics and gadgetry passions with the need to (do) more with what we have, is getting ready to jump out of the box (hit the market in a big way).

    With the advent of real time communication, change is part of the basic menu.

    Terry O’Malley, CEO


    “ Making Environmental Stewardship a Reality”

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