Although most people claim to prefer a more sustainable product, only a limited number of ‘green buyers’ act on their words at the moment of purchase. To find out how to get mainstream buyers to buy more sustainable products, we used data on 950 Western European buyers of 32 different vacuum cleaner models. The issue was why three out of four consumers bought a less sustainable high input power model when an energy-efficient model with equal specifications was also on offer at the same price. Only 6% of buyers bought their vacuum cleaner for environmental reasons. The remaining 94% of buyers stated that their purchase decision was mainly based on reliability, durability, key features, the brand and value for money, regardless of whether they bought an energy-efficient or -inefficient model. The 73% who bought energy-inefficient vacuum cleaners opted for heavier models (perceived as more robust) featuring bags for dust collection, and were more sensitive to messages addressing technological innovation. Beside energy-efficiency legislation, we see two options to encourage mainstream consumers to buy more energy-efficient products: (1) link technical advancement in innovation to lower power (‘we can create more suction with less energy’) in product branding, and (2) seduce mainstream consumers with models that are redesigned for performance, robustness and durability. With this quantitative consumer research, we add both to the knowledge of buying behaviour in terms of sustainability as well as to the knowledge on how to redesign and market green products in mainstream markets.
Bibliographical noteAccepted author manuscript
- Sustainable consumption
- Consumer research
- Value creation