Interesting report from McKinsey this morning about how to persuade customers
to be more proactive in shopping in an environmentally friendly manner. They noted that while the majority of shoppers are willing to "shop green", the practical reality is that the vast majority do not actually do so.

I am as guilty of this as most people – and in my defense, I cite most of the reasons they gave as well.

The article also said: Consider the success of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), for example. In 2005, sales of CFLs accounted for less than 5 percent of the total lightbulb market. Only two years later – in 2007, the year the public woke up to the looming threat of climate change – they captured an estimated 20 percent of it, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

I think that misses a key point though. While going green was indeed a factor in my decision to switch, I had to admit that the biggest criteria was that they save me a lot of money. The low energy bulbs happen last a lot longer than my old incandescent bulbs and they use a lot less electricity. To me, that is a double bonus, especially as there is nothing more likely to annoy than flicking a light switch only to get a popping sound as the bulb breaks. Eco-bulbs don’t seem to do that (so far).

It’s the same with a lot of green marketing I see: "do this and reduce your carbon footprint by (x) tonnes".

OK – that sounds nice, but why not sell the message by pointing out that we are simply wasting fuel by using old light bulbs? I don’t like pointless waste – and I am sure most people would cut pointless waste if they could (unless you are a government agency of course).

The article says that people are willing to pay a premium to be green – but frankly, I suspect that people say that, then rush over to the bargain bin as soon as the survey taker’s back is turned. It’s the environmental version of the Bradley effect.

I have no real idea what saving x tonnes of CO2 actually means – but I know what cutting my electricity bill by £50 a year means.

I think the sales message has almost become too obsessed with "being green", and maybe it should target our personal greed instead. Do "this" and save money – oh and it also happens to be eco-friendly as well, isn’t that a nice little bonus?

Considering how many TV adverts exist to exhort us to cut the cost of our gas bills, car insurance etc – I suspect that a money saving argument might succeed more than a being green one ever could.

The McKinsey report is online – although you have to register to read it (you get an occasional newsletter).

Incidentally, I just started replacing my spotlights with LED versions as they “go pop”, and they give off a much bluer light, looks quite clinical in the kitchen and rather nice.

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