I was at a climate change conference last week, where one of the few diamonds in the dross was a presentation by IPSOS MORI on their research into consumer attitudes on climate change and low carbon lifestyles. One pair of questions really summed up the dichotomy that we have to face in the green economy. The research hasn't been published yet and I didn't scribble the statistics down fast enough on the day, but here's the gist of it:
Q. "Would you buy a solar panel for your house, no matter what they cost?"
A. Yeah, sure!
Q. "Would you pay £5000 to get a solar panel put on your house?"
A. HOW MUCH???!!! (much swearing under breath)
I think this demonstrates that while green markets are expanding fast, for most is from a very small base. While the mainstream may think they are green, they're not going to queue outside the bank to get a loan to invest in the lifestyle. Only in markets where there is a clear benefit (or perceived benefit) to the consumer do green products out perform the traditional, eg A/A+ rated white goods (money saving and kudos - who wants a C rated anything?) and organic baby food (we don't like the thought of feeding crap to our kids).
So if you're working on a green product or service don't forget that quality and price will be just as important as green credentials.