Tech Brands’ Greenness a Growing Factor in Positioning

September 5, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Household Income | Technology | Television | Youth & Gen X

Tech products and practices that are “Green,” or environmentally sensitive, are emerging as an element of tech brand positioning and consumer consideration – but the potential to claim green leadership remains fragmented across the Tech brandscape – according to survey results released by Ipsos.

The survey asked a broad spectrum of online Americans about the importance they place on a half-dozen green tech practices and the degree to which they view each in a long list of tech brands as environmentally sensitive in their approach to business.

Consumers were asked to rate the importance of six green practices in influencing their tech purchase preferences:

  • Over half (57%) of consumers rated the presence of the Energy Star label as influential.
  •  Nearly half (48%) cited manufacturer commitment to discarding older tech products in an environmentally friendly manner.
  • Some 45% pointed to meeting EPA standards for these product disposals (45%).
  • At least one-third of respondents rated each of the other three factors as influential as well: green energy inputs to production, manufacturing that incorporates recycled components, and contributions to environmental causes.


“As these green issues emerge as more mainstream considerations, what’s striking is their overall consistency regardless of age, gender, income, or where people live,” said Todd Board, SVP of Ipsos Insight’s Media, Entertainment & Technology practice.

However, college-educated Americans do place more value on each factor, other than contributions to environmental causes, Board said.

“We also see more importance placed on the Energy Star rating among Americans with incomes over $50,000. So the influence of these environmentally friendly purchase factors is a bit more prominent among more socially influential consumers,” he added.

Respondents were also presented with a long list of leading tech brands and asked which (if any) they would associate with having green or environmentally friendly business practices:

  • Significantly, more than half – 55% – perceived none of the brands as green.
  • The remaining 45% of consumers selected Microsoft, HP, Dell, Apple – brands that consumers encounter regularly – as in the first tier.
  • The second tier cited by respondents included venerable tech brands of yesteryear – Kodak, Sony, Gateway, IBM, and Motorola.


Not surprisingly, “the rank order of these brand mentions seems to mirror their prominence in the tech landscape, if you factor in Apple’s increased exposure in recent years,” Board said.

“At the same time, it’s something of a ‘halo index,’ in that there’s precious little information available to consumers for them to really assess how green one tech firm is versus another. So when we see a Kodak, Sony or IBM emerge here, to some extent we’re seeing more generalized brand affinity being transferred to this green dimension.”

For American consumers, greenness is emerging as a key issue – though not a universal factor yet but important enough to enough Americans to matter to tech firms, according to Board.

However, “while this is emerging as a cost-of-entry issue, it isn’t clear that any one tech firm can carve out sustainable differentiation around green behaviors and positioning. Our data suggest a bit more skepticism about tech brand commitments to green issues among younger Americans than among those age 55-plus,” Board said.

About the study: Data were drawn from an online survey conducted by Ipsos Insight, among a nationally representative sample of age 18+ adults, drawn from its US online panel. Data collection occurred over April 3 through April 6, 2007. Of the total survey respondent base of N=1,295, 91% (N=1,183) reported personal ownership and/or use of at least one in a list of technology devices and were asked the questions highlighted in this release. The list of qualifying products used/owned in order to be asked the “green” question sequence included the following: Apple iPod or other Apple brand portable MP3/media player; Non-Apple branded portable MP3/media player; Smartphone device such as a Blackberry or Treo capable of streaming video; Standard cellphone or wireless handset; Notebook or Tablet PC; Latest-generation video game console such as a Nintendo Wii, Microsoft X-Box 360 or Sony Playstation 3; Portable Gaming Device such as a Sony PSP or Nintendo DS; Digital Video Recorder or TiVo; High-Definition Television (Plasma, LCD or DLP); Personal/home printer capable of printing photos; Digital Camera; High Definition Camcorder; Portable Navigation Device (GPS); High Definition DVD Player (such as Blu-Ray or HD-DVD); High Definition Radio Receiver (HD-Radio).

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