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Green is great, if it is cheap…

Results of a poll in the UK and US (internet users) indicating the reasons why eco-friendly products may not be chosen. By far the most important one is price: if they are more expensive than normal products that customers won’t consider them. Image credit: eMarketer Insider Intelligence

Few days ago I saw the results of a poll inquiring on the reasons why customers may not choose an eco-friendly product. I should say it did not surprise me at all to see that the main reason, by far, is the price tag. If an eco-friendly product costs more (and it does) than a corresponding non-eco-friendly delivering the same performances (also in terms of style) than the customer will buy the un-friendly, but cheaper one.

I was also totally unsurprised by the last (in terms of ranking) “whys”: the feeling that one’s individual impact doesn’t make a difference. I guess this might also be a strong reason why customers are unwilling to pay more for an eco-friendly product. If my choice is not going to have an impact, why should I pay more?

In the coming years we are going to see and increased “pressure” on companies in many areas of the world to shift towards green, circular and sustainable economy and this pressure will be based on “economics” through funds (EU is investing over the next 5 years some 1.8 trillion euros – Next Generation Europe- with the explicit goal of making the whole economy greener and sustainable, with funds being released in small packages, each following one depending on the achievements reached by the previous one. US has pledged to halve the CO2 emission to 2005 levels by 2035) and through tax (like the carbon tax). This is likely to provide a much more level playing field, in terms of cost/price for eco-friendly products and therefore can respond to the first “why” listed in the poll results.

However, it will be essential, as I see it, to increase the awareness of the impact of our individual choices, making clear that each one can make a difference. This needs to become a worldwide effort, as important as the funding and policies.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.