We’re about halfway through the analysis on this year’s Eco Pulse survey (which will release around June 22), and the headline above reflects a new theme in this year’s study.
Quick background: Eco Pulse is an online survey of 1,006 adults, stratified to mirror the geographic distribution of the American population and weighted to match overall U.S. age and ethnicity. This is our second year of conducting the study and the purpose is to better understand consumer attitudes towards “green” — how they define it, how engaged they are, what messages they’ll respond to, what they’ll buy, and what they’ll pay for it.
In this years’ study a little over half the population tells us they consider themselves to be environmentally responsible — willing to change practices and habits to positively impact the environment. Nice. But then we gave them a list of electric devices and asked which ones they’d give up if it turned out the devices were harmful to the environment. Not so nice. 21% were unwilling to give up anything, and though a third said they could live without their ipod, that’s probably because they’d just play music from their computer — only 7% would part with that. Or they’d just go the store and buy music the old fashioned way, because only 6% would give up their cars.
This jives exactly with another finding from this years’ study. We asked, “If you had to choose between your comfort, your convenience or the environment, which would you choose?” Last year comfort came out way on top, but the environment scored second place. This year convenience trumps comfort and they both trump the environment. So, back to the previous paragraph, the more inconvenient life would be without the thing to give up, the less likely they are to give it up. Life’s really not that much more inconvenient without an ipod…but it’s pretty hard without a car or a computer.
This is not good news for the green movement. We think convenience is a bigger barrier to adopting sustainable habits than comfort. Thus, manufacturers and marketers need to build in “easy access” to any green product or service they take to market. A la Clorox Green Works, make it available through mainstream retail outlets, where folks are already used to shopping. If it’s an energy related product, make it so people can deal with it once and forget it. For instance, asking folks to unplug the devices that add phantom load to the grid is too much (yes, really). Build the devices to begin with so they truly shut down and don’t keep drawing power after a certain amount of inactivity.
Folks genuinely want to do the right thing. They just don’t want it to be hard.