Consumers remain wary of green claims from motor-makers

by Search Gate staff. Published Mon 17 Oct 2017 16:29
Eco car claims discourage wary motorists

Motor manufacturers selling eco-friendly models may be missing out on sales by prioritising marketing messages about environmental benefits over cost savings, according to new research.

A survey of over 1,000 UK drivers found that environmental messages speak only to a small cohort of ‘green activists’ which make up just 5.7 per cent of UK car drivers. The research suggests that manufacturers would instead be better-served focusing on the majority of car buyers that seek cost benefits from their purchase.

When buying a new car, consumers’ thoughts are dominated by economic factors. Price (87 per cent) and fuel consumption (79 per cent) are the two biggest concerns with the particular model’s insurance costs coming in fifth (61 per cent).

While almost eight in ten (78 per cent) would consider buying a ‘green’ car at present, 57 per cent would not pay a premium to do so. Overall, only a quarter of consumers (24 per cent) consider the environmental impact of a particular car when purchasing.

These rational concerns drive thinking irrespective of a person’s environmental perspective. Two thirds (68 per cent) of respondents say the economic climate dictates when they buy a new car, irrespective of whether they have ‘green’ sentiment or not.

The study, carried out by digital media company Specific Media, found that consumers are ‘cynical’, ‘wary’ and ‘suspicious’ of adverts with environmental themes and messages. At the same time, they were unlikely to find these adverts to be ‘informative’ and ‘clear’.

Far from encouraging people to buy green, environmental messages in adverts make consumers suspicious and actively turn off the majority.

Chris Worrell, European research manager at Specific Media, said: “Contrary to popular perception, there is not an army of environmental car crusaders waiting to go green.

“This research shows that by highlighting the environmental credentials of their models, manufacturers are not only speaking to just a tiny fraction of their potential audience, they may actually be turning consumers off their brands.

“The continuing economic uncertainty means that the majority of consumers are concerned with hard financial benefits. Online advertising allows manufacturers to develop distinct messages for specific cohorts of consumers, so brands should be looking to deliver tailor-made messages.”

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