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Forrester Sees Green Among U.S. Consumers

Which manufacturer will create the iconic "Prius" product in consumer electronics? The research firm says the field is wide open.

Among U.S. consumer electronics buyers, there's an emerging environmentally conscious group that's willing to pay more for green products, a researcher said Monday.

Fully 12% of U.S. adults, or 25 million Americans, are willing to pay extra for gadgets that use less energy or come from a company that approaches product design with the environment in mind, Forrester Research said. These "bright green" buyers are the vanguard of an emerging consumer market that will be an attractive target for technology companies.

"The green leadership position is open: Which manufacturer will create the iconic 'Prius' product in consumer electronics?" Forrester senior VP Christopher Mines said in a statement, referring to the popular Toyota hybrid electric car.

In a survey of 5,000 U.S. adults, Forrester also found an additional 41% of the respondents, who represent 90 million consumers, were concerned with the state of the environment, which is threatened by excessive energy consumption and the hazardous materials found in electronics. This group, however, did not strongly agree that they would pay more for green products.

The remaining 47% of respondents, representing 96 million Americans, did not share the others' concerns about the environment or global warming, Forrester said.

Among PC brands, Apple's customer base is the greenest, with 17% of its customers in the bright green category. Buyers of Hewlett-Packard's Compaq brand ranked second, with 13% in the most environmentally conscious group.

Many of the major consumer electronics manufacturers, including Apple, Dell, HP, Sony, and Toshiba, have taken early steps to green their products and operations. In the future, however, Forrester expects to see product marketers and designers embrace environment-protecting principles, such as energy efficiency, lower-impact manufacturing, longer product life cycles, and recycling.

To date, most green efforts by consumer technology makers have been a "one-size-fits-all" approach that applies across the board to a company's products, manufacturing, and supply chain, Forrester said. That approach is expected to become more focused as green consumers emerge as a target segment for style-conscious electronics manufacturers.

Last month, Web site PriceGrabber.com found that more holiday shoppers were concerned with what's in the products they buy. Fully 60% of eco-friendly product searches fell under a "For Kids" category.

PriceGrabber said the top two green products this year are a Samsung's 245T black 24-inch wide-screen LCD Monitor and an Apple 15.4-inch MacBook Pro Intel Core 2 Duo Notebook. Other popular green products include a "fairytale plush" monkey, natural shampoo, and a yoga blanket made from recycled materials.

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