What's more important? Green technology products that will do minimum impact to the environment? Or cheaper products that use more resources and are harder to recycle? A recent study from Panasonic and Macquarie University has shown that when it comes to actually spending money on Green Technology, Australians are a lot more interested in the green inside their wallets.
The study questioned 2000 Australians about the decisions they make in purchasing technology products - namely TVs, digital cameras, washing machines and air conditioners (it was funded by Panasonic, after all). The study found that although people wanted to be environmentally conscious in their purchasing decisions, when it came down to the nitty-gritty of actually spending money, they didn't follow through, instead opting to buy products based on brand and price.
When it comes to actual purchase, brand and price are still the key factors influencing consumer purchase decisions. Consumers indicate that they favour products with eco-features, but most products contain a complex bundle of parts with environmental features just one of many to consider.
These findings make sense - When you're buying a TV, there are so many things to consider, such as resolution, brightness, design, IPTV, 3D - not to mention all the marketing terms manufacturers use. It makes sense that customers would want to buy an energy efficient TV, but under the confusion of navigating the different options, it may slip down the importance ladder.
But as Professor Tim Flannery (who's chairman of the Panasonic Chair in Environmental Sustainability at Macquarie University) told us last week, the challenge is to somehow convince consumers that spending slightly more money now could save you significant amounts of money in the long run, at the same time as saving the planet:
“It’s all about leadership, really. If you just buy the middle-of-the-road, or the cheapest, and just allow the environment to carry the cost of inefficient energy and so forth, you just become part of the problem.
“If you support the leaders, and invest a bit in the future and reduce your own electricity costs, you become one of the leaders. And we need more leaders in the world.”
The study itself opens the door to a whole range of questions about how companies need to change consumer behaviour to make them think and act like green aspects of technology become one of the main issues factored into a product purchase. Undoubtedly we'll see more and more of this kind of information pushed to us at points of sale in the near future, including information about how green the manufacturing process of a product is, not just figures around a product's usage.