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Manufacturers should promote cost benefits to sell green

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

Digital media company Specific Media finds that environmental messages speak only to a small cohort of ‘green activists’ which make up just 5.7% 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%) and fuel consumption (79%) are the two biggest concerns with the particular model’s insurance costs coming in fifth (61%).

While almost eight in 10 (78%) would consider buying a ‘green’ car at present, 57% would not pay a premium to do so.

Overall, only a quarter of consumers (24%) 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%) of respondents say the economic climate dictates when they buy a new car, irrespective of whether they have ‘green’ sentiment or not.

Indeed, the study 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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