Performance Anxiety

Performance Anxiety

There are two common refrains we hear in consumer focus groups about green products:

  1. They’re too expensive
  2. They don’t work

So we fielded a study specifically for the companies who are members of our Inner Circle Group to understand more about the implications of this.  Are performance issues and price barriers the sole reasons for the gap between intention and action in the green products space?  Will poor performance cause consumers to give up on green products?

What we found surprised us.

Nearly 80% of the population says they’ve purchased at least one green product.  So price and performance perceptions are not getting in the way of trial.  They may, however, be getting in the way of long-term adoption.  A quarter of the population said they’d been disappointed by a green product they’d purchased.  The source of the dissatisfaction?  You guessed it:  performance and price.  Depending on the category, sometimes nearly half of those who were dissatisfied said they’d never purchase again. Now, remember, that’s half of 23%, so this isn’t as dire as it sounds.  But it does explain a few things.

For instance, the category with the highest rate of dissatisfaction was cleaning products — 13% of the 39% who’ve purchase a green product said they’d been dissatisfied by green cleaners.  Slightly over half of those said they wouldn’t buy again.  So roughly 7% of those who’ve tried green cleaners are done.  That explains what the cleaning products manufacturers already know:  lots of folks tried green cleaners as they first rolled onto the mainstream shelves, but not all of them bought again after trying the product (too much of a price premium for the performance they experienced).

What we don’t know and will explore in future studies is this:  how does the negative buzz from those who were dissatisfied impact the people who haven’t yet tried a particular green product?  Using the example from above, 61% of the population have not yet tried green cleaning products…so if they hear the 13% who were dissatisfied talking about their dissatisfaction, does that deter them from even trying the products?

Logic would say the negative buzz would sway some…which points to the need for green cleaning products manufacturers to focus their advertising message way more on performance right now and far less on the green aspects of the product. If it doesn’t actually clean, many consumers won’t care how good it is for the environment.

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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