First, nobody ever said consumers were rational. We’re talking about the same people who say they are way too busy, and then go to three different stores to do their weekly grocery shopping.
Second, it’s becoming clear that being viewed as altruistic and gaining social status may be stronger motivators for green purchases than saving the planet.
According to research from the University of Minnesota, many consumers choose different products when they shop in public vs shop at home. In the store, they buy energy saving light bulbs and green cleaning products. When they shop online, those same consumers purchase cheaper incandescent bulbs and conventional cleaners. Why? They make in-store purchases to signal that they are caring people who have enough money that they can afford to be altruistic. That increases their status. In private, they choose the more economical options. That increases their bank balance.