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Some shoppers will pay more for greener tech

A Forrester Research study identifies 53 percent of tech consumers as green.

Twelve percent of Americans are willing to pay more for greener electronics, according to a Forrester Research survey of 5,000 people. The study forecast that electronics companies will learn to target this segment of the population, equivalent to 25 million consumers.

The report broke down shoppers into three categories: "bright" green, green, and un-green. Another 41 percent may care about environmental woes, but not enough to pay more for greener gadgets, while green issues were of little or no concern to another 47 percent of people surveyed.

"Bright" green consumers are otherwise known by the marketing acronym LOHAS, which stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. Generally well-off, well-read and particular about what they buy, their predecessors include those who may have bought tofu from a "health food store" before Whole Foods ushered in an era of eco-supermarkets and Wal-Mart stocked organic broccoli.

However, in electronics there is no equivalent green brand to Whole Foods. Green labels on gadgets are not prominent, and products made by companies with ecologically aware practices generally don't cost more than others. People interested in buying more efficient products will see the EnergyStar seal on products. EPEAT ratings of energy-efficient electronics, on the other hand, do not mark goods in stores.

Electronics with EPEAT ratings don't usually cost more than others.
Electronics with EPEAT ratings don't usually cost more than others. EPEAT

The latest Greenpeace guide to greener electronics, released quarterly since August 2006, gave low marks last week to Nintendo, Philips and Microsoft. Apple, long the target of a Greenpeace campaign, improved its ranking. LG Electronics, HP and Sony also made significant gains in the environmental watchdog's rankings.