'Tis the Green Gadget Season


Holidays are traditionally a time of thoughtless consumption, when we try to justify overeating, overspending, and running our electricity bills sky-high. But that doesn’t mean that when it comes to buying more goods to stuff under the tree, we don’t want to make ourselves feel — however superficially — like we’re doing something good for the planet. ‘Tis the season for spending our guilt away! According to a new report from Forrester, there’s an emerging market for “greener” consumer electronics, both energy-efficient and more environmentally friendly.

In a survey of 5,000 U.S. adults, Forrester found that 12 percent, or 25 million Americans, said they’re willing to pay extra for greener consumer electronics. That’s what these survey responders stated when specifically asked, mind you — the results at the cash register may turn out to be quite different. These “bright greens,” as Forrester called them, describe themselves as concerned about the environment and “strongly agree” that they would pay more for consumer electronics that either save energy or are made by a company that is environmentally responsible.

The report also notes, rather dramatically, that:

The green leadership position is open: Which manufacturer will create the iconic ‘Prius’ product in consumer electronics?

The rest of the data, however, is just plain depressing. Out of the remaining responders — 41 percent of U.S. adults, or 90 million people — are concerned about the environment, but aren’t yet willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly products. So basically they’ve heard that this global warming thing isn’t so great for the planet, but aren’t willing to sacrifice anything to help fight it.

We’d like to think that emphasizing the long-term energy savings that energy-efficient electronics can deliver is enough to entice the U.S. consumer, but eventually, eco-gadgets will have to either be the same price as regular electronics — or even cheaper.

Worst of all, a whopping 47 percent, or 96 million Americans, say they are just not “yet” concerned about the environment or global warming. Wow. Maybe it’s only shocking when you live in California and run an ecoblog, but you’d think the media attention and social pressure alone would prompt more respondents to at least express some concern for the environment.

The report also makes clear that the consumers who consider themselves green buyers aren’t necessarily getting the greenest products: Among the “bright green” category, the popular PC brands were Apple (AAPL) and H-P’s (HPQ) Compaq brand. According to Greenpeace, Apple and H-P fall somewhere on the average scale of eco-friendly. Both Apple and H-P received scores of less than seven on a scale of one to 10, while companies like Samsung, Lenovo and Dell (DELL) received far higher scores. It’s all in the marketing, folks.



Has anyone found this report from Forrester? A couple of quick searches and I can’t turn it up – please post a better link. Thanks.

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