Know why consumers don't buy environment – friendly products

In an eye-opener for companies aiming to promote environment – friendly products, new research suggests that they should downplay its green credentials if they want consumers to buy it.

Green products include features that are less harmful to the planet and population, such as biodegradable and nontoxic ingredients, that enhance energy efficiency and include recycled components.

However, while it has been suggested that consumers are willing to buy such products, these attitudes rarely result in purchases and they often buy the conventional alternatives, say researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and University of Leeds.

This is because of the performance ability associated with green products, whereby consumers perceive them as being less effective. "Instead, by downplaying the product's greenness, firms may be more likely to persuade consumers to buy it, if it is promoted on more traditional, rather than performance, aspects," said the study.

The study shows that the product category can influence the effect of a green product advertising strategy on performance assessments.

While firms have often attempted to enhance their environmental credentials by emphasising a new product's green attributes, this may in fact have negative consequences, researcher added in a paper published in the Journal of Advertising.

"As green products are often associated with poorer performance, firms would do well to tailor their advertising to meet the expected benefits associated with a given product category," the authors noted.

According to previous research, consumers tend to choose products with superior functional performance over products with superior sustainability characteristics.

In the new study, authors conducted two experiments: One with an advertisement for a new laundry detergent and the other using an advert for a washing machine that featured a new eco – mode, which reduces power and water usage.

They found that communication about greenness leads to higher performance evaluations and purchase intent for products that are less commonly green and

that have an optional green mode.

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