Marketing and Energy Efficiency in Mobile Telecoms

March 30, 2010

Potential exists for energy efficiency despite consumer disinterest

green smartphoneThis is a guest contribution by my colleague Dr. Werner Kunz, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Professor Kunz recently collaborated with consultants A.T. Kearney in a survey-based study demonstrating little consumer interest but the potential for energy efficiency in the industry.

Marketing experts know that the customer ultimately decides what will be produced in the marketplace. Thus, consideration of the customer’s point of view is critical for  success in business. If sustainability and climate change are increasingly important for the customer, companies need to react and adjust their strategies, even if there are costs involved.

But what happens if customers do not care about environmental impacts, at least in relation to a particular market? A recent study by A.T. Kearney in cooperation with the College of Management, UMass-Boston, shows that only 1.5 percent of the customers in the mobile telecommunications industry place significant value on the environmental efforts and social initiatives of their operators. Most customers do not see the mobile communication industry as a major environmental problem, or look to it for environmental leadership.

mobile phone green consumers

So does it make sense for the companies in this industry to pay more attention to energy and the environment? One major reason for the low consumer interest more environmental friendly is lack of knowledge. As the study shows, one-hour of mobile phone use, including related network-wide resources, consumes almost the same power like a washing machine at 100°F. From a marketing as well as energy use perspective, there are critical reasons for mobile telecommunication companies to become more green.

First, it would be very risky for the telecommunications firms to bet that consumers will remain ignorant and indifferent. As more companies move toward measuring carbon and labeling products, consumers are likely to take more interest in the environmental performance of a broader range of products and services. Second, a company that starts today to prepare for a low-emissions future can more efficiently plan investments and the deployment of new assets to achieve these goals. The emissions reductions can be substantial.

telecoms emissions reductions

Such initiatives can be done thoughtfully and systematically, because in the future they will be a necessity anyway. The advantage is that strategic marketing management offers great branding opportunities as an environmentally friendly company, as well as significant cost savings and emission reductions. The study can be downloaded here (in pdf format).

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