Henry Ford

It’s official – consumers really do take the green option

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 | News | No Comments

ocado vanMany many pieces of market research ask consumers whether they would take a green option if it were no more work or hassle or money. And of course, loads of people say that they would, but surveying people about what they would do is notoriously unreliable: As Henry Ford said, “If I’d asked them what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”.

For one thing, people don’t know what they would do in some hypothetical circumstance, and for another, people normally say what they think you want to hear, or what they ought to say. So it’s much more interesting to see what they do actually do, when faced with real choices.

Interesting, then, to learn that the majority of Ocado’s customers choose the ‘green van’ option. Ocado delivers groceries, and when you book a delivery sot, some slots are already marked with a green van, meaning that there will be a delivery in your area at that time – and therefore the carbon impact of delivering to you at that time is lower. It’s a good “experiment” because there’s no price differential – no incentive either way. Evidently, many people just want their groceries on, say, Thursday morning and don’t mind precisely when. Logistics and price being equal, they’re happy to have a more environmental option. This is a much better indication of their interest and tolerance than hypothetical questions.

But the real issue is this: Given that the ‘green van’ means that the van is in your area anyway, there must be a cost saving for Ocado. So why don’t they reward their green customers by passing that saving on?

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