iSuppli ‘Green’ Survey Sheds No Light

Don’t be fooled by iSuppli’s latest report saying that consumers are going green. The data actually say the opposite.

The research firm issued a press release today stating more than half of US LCD-TV buyers say that environmental issues “influenced their decision when selecting a set to purchase.”

A look at the rest of the picture tells a different story.

According to the April survey, 27.5% of LCD-TV buyers “listed green factors as important influences” in their purchasing decisions. Another 23.1% responded that they looked for green features when buying an LCD-TV, but those features were not an important consideration [bolds mine] in the overall purchasing decision.

From this, iSuppli somehow concludes that “more than half of US LCD-TV buyers are paying attention to environmental features, making ‘green’ a key selling point that needs to be highlighted wherever possible in branding and marketing efforts.”

Here’s the rub: Fewer than 16% of respondents highlighted recyclability as a feature on their purchase.

Say it with me: Electronics aren’t green. They require lots of mining and other nasty actions to produce, consume billions of tons of plastic, and hog energy. And if you can’t recycle it, it’s even less environmentally friendly.

Not long ago, I spent 30 minutes or so standing in the electronics department of the Seabrook, NH, Wal-Mart, asking customers why they chose their TV. (I’d say I did this just for fun, but have you ever tried randomly starting a conversation at a Wal-Mart? It’s not easy.) The most common answers? Price and “it looked good.” Not one customer mentioned environmental reasons. Not one.

Granted, there’s nothing scientific about my poll. And customers don’t shop at Wal-Mart because they like the pretty store décor.

But consider this: What’s the simplest move a consumer can make to save energy? Change the light bulbs to compact fluorescents, right? Yet those bulbs are used in only 11% of the available sockets in the US today.

Why? Maybe because the list price is several times higher than that of an incandescent.

It all comes down to price.

There’s a color for what iSuppli is pitching, but it’s not green. It’s brown.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow