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Energy Pulse: Wallets Drive Many Green Purchase Decisions

Companies that want to sell themselves as “green” and environmentally friendly must address product cost concerns as well as put their own money where their mouth is -? or else face rising skepticism with a cost-conscious and more discerning U.S. consumer, according to a national study that evaluates the consumer mindset on energy use and conservation, according to the third annual Shelton Group Energy Pulse study, to be released October 8.

Energy Pulse documents that purchase intention for every energy-efficient home product evaluated is down from the study’s 2006 results. For example, only 69 percent of consumers would choose one home over another based on energy-efficiency, down from 86 percent who said they would do so in 2006.

“Even with all the talk today about consumers seeking to save energy costs and help the environment, the shaky housing market and other recent economic uncertainties prove that wallets are still driving many Americans’green purchase decisions,” said Shelton Group CEO Suzanne Shelton. “As it stands, ‘?energy-efficient’ is consistently equated to ‘?more expensive’ in the minds of consumers for products across the board.”

“But saying ‘?save money’ when advertising an energy-efficient product isn’t necessarily good enough,” Shelton said. “Our research shows that consumers want proof. Messages also need to offer other subtle suggestions such as happiness, safety, peace of mind and security in order to resonate with what consumers desire.”

The finding is similar to a recent Marketing Profs article which said that green marketing must satisfy two objectives: Improved environmental quality and customer satisfaction. Misjudging either or overemphasizing the former at the expense of the latter is what can be called green marketing myopia – a corporate preoccupation with a products “greenness” rather than consumer needs.

In the Energy Pulse survey, when asked “Given an extra $10,000 in your construction budget for discretionary items, which of the following would you choose?” the top answers were:

• Granite counter tops (26 percent)
• Higher efficiency HVAC unit (24 percent)
• Upgraded or additional energy-efficient kitchen appliances (21 percent)
• Additional tile or hardwood (21 percent)
• Indoor air purification system (18 percent)
When asked, “If you were given $10,000 to make home renovations, which one or two things would you
do?” the top answers were:

• Replace carpet or add hardwood or tile (31 percent)
• Refinish kitchen or bathroom (29 percent)
• Repaint interior or exterior (27 percent)
• Replace windows (23 percent)

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