Demand Surging for Greener Consumer Technologies

Most Americans are ready for green technologies, but the products aren"t always easy to find.© Getty Images

Last week the University of Maryland’s Center for Excellence in Service and Technology research firm Rockbridge Associates released the results of a survey showing that Americans are willing to spend as much as $104 billion in 2008 for environmentally friendly consumer products and technologies. But finding the products to satiate surging demand might be the hard part.

Eighty-three percent of survey respondents said they wanted to protect the environment, and 59 percent reported that they like trying new technologies to help the environment. But 42 percent said such technologies are hard to find.

With many low-emission and hybrid vehicles in auto showrooms, green cars are one big-ticket item that consumers are not having trouble finding. In fact, half of the projected $104 billion in green-tech consumer sales will likely come from purchases of greener cars (including high-mileage, hybrid fuel, biofuel and alternative-fuel vehicles).

Researchers concluded that trends in green technology follow a similar path as other consumer trends. "Our research found that green technology trends are led by a small yet powerful group of influencers that actively act as evangelists to a secondary group of adopters," says P.K. Kannan, director of the Center for Excellence in Service.

"There is a great opportunity for firms to not only target these green-tech leaders to adopt their green products and services, but also use them to get the word out," Kannan adds. "This market segment tends to be younger, heavier users of online social media and more enthusiastic about technology in general. They write blogs and advise others, and they also create a strong social networking effect that is critical for diffusing green technology to the larger market."

Sources: Rockbridge; Business Journal