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Environmentally Friendly – An asset or an obstacle?

I recently read an article from the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science titled “It’s not easy being green:  the effects of attribute tradeoffs on green product preference and choice” by Erik L. Olson.  The author discusses and researches the “value action gap” – defined as “the pro-green attitudes of most consumers and their much rarer pro-green behaviors”.  I know that I am guilty of this mindset – sure, I want to help the environment, but when asked to pay the price I often make excuses. 

An especially interesting finding quantified this “value action gap” as it related to Hybrid automobiles.  The study showed that almost 50% of respondents expressed a preference for a hybrid car, but with the current tradeoffs less than 12% were predicted to actually purchase one.   Wow!  That’s definitely a watchout to marketers who are responsible for selling the hybrids.  I, though, started to wonder about environmentally friendliness as it relates to Customer Loyalty and its antecedents. 

In customer experience surveys, we often ask for perceptions of a company’s Environmental Friendliness.  I’ve always taken at face value that a positive perception of being environmentally conscious translates as a good thing in achieving Customer Loyalty.  After reading this article and thinking about the value tradeoffs, I’m wondering if it is common for Environmental Friendliness to possibly have a negative relationship to perceived Value.    It may be interesting to monitor this relationship and see if and how it differs by industry.  Also, if of particular interest to a company, it may be wise to use the customer experience assessment to more deeply assess a consumer’s view of the company’s environmental efforts.


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