Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Conservatives Hate Conservation

A study out Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined attitudes about energy efficiency in liberals and conservatives, and found that promoting energy-efficient products and services on the basis of their environmental benefits actually turned conservatives off from picking them.
Act surprised.


Chad Lott said...

I could have told you this just from selling product at a farmers market. Depending on what the demographic of the neighborhood or customer was, we would completely change our sales pitch.

The more left/hippy someone or somewhere was, the more you could lean on environmental practices. If the people were right/suburban, it was all about flavor profile and quality statements.

Unfortunately, from a marketing perspective, eco-issues are becoming an even harder sell, largely because of greenwashing ads.

From my perspective I think this has more to do with trust of those claims rather than any hardwired hatred of those claims.

Amory Lovins and that Natural Capitalism crowd could not have been more wrong about greenwashing producing a net positive impact on people's consciousness. From what I've seen from focus groups, people are immediately distrustful of even the most benign ads and begin to distrust the messages they see in them.

The one thing that does give me some hope is that people are very responsive to ads that tell the story of the people who own cool companies.

Of course, this could just be some artisan-washing version of the widespread worship of CEOs and Entrepreneurs.

Interestingly enough, right or left, no one ever wants to know about the treatment of workers, and when you mentioned those issues, people just turned off completely.

Dale Carrico said...

Definitely a terrible thing happened when sustainability issues were displaced from the space of contention over disputable facts (what is happening? what are the impacts of what is happening on whom? what policies best address what is happening? what are the impacts of these policies on whom?) into the non-adjudicable Cuture War space through which people engage in subcultural signalling to one another about who they are and who they are not (where facts of selfhood get performatively substantiated). This seems to me to have happened roughly when -- which is not to say because of -- Al Gore released "An Inconvenient Truth" and the rise of the Killer Clown Movement Republicans who stopped caring about what the facts of climate change were and the precious bodily fluids Bircher embryo became the Tea Party caucus and so on. This isn't about facts anymore or their adjudication, but about the demands of often paranoid-aggressive bearings of threatened selfhood in a diversifying, secularizing, planetizing America. Needless to say, the facts of catastrophic climate are still there, being all catastrophic and stuff even if the sites for their deliberative and legislative address/redress no longer connect in any meaningful way to them.

Dale Carrico said...

Nice point, by the way, about corporate CEgO-fluffing via attributions of the "artisanal" as analogous to greenwashing. Hadn't thought of it exactly that way, but I immediately and forcefully saw what you meant.

Chad Lott said...

Thank you.

The kind of stuff I work on professionally doesn't exactly cause me to lose sleep, but I'm beginning to become uncomfortable with the narrative that I'm actively helping to build.

Or more precisely, I'm uncomfortable with its eventual adoption by less benevolent corporate marketing professionals.

I've been writing a lot of little blurbs about small food companies that are owned and operated by very cool, talented people. On balance, I'd say its not a bad thing to tell people about these admirable folk and they're more or less what an honest person might consider artisanal.

While there isn't much to hate on in an ad that speaks about a home chef with a dream of making organic vegan food available for everyone-It isn't hard to imagine an ad campaign in the future talking about Ray Kroc as a simple chef with a dream to make great American food available for everyone.

McDonald's already played this game with their "local french fries made from local potatoes" bullshit. I bet the locavore folks never imagined you could spin geography.

Once they've absorbed and co-opted the message of good intent, I honestly don't know what's left.

Black guy from the future past said...

*Acting surprised now*