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Americans' appetite for environmentally friendly technologies and consumer products is grossly underserved, with a potential $104 billion in sales this year, according to the 2007 National Technology Readiness Survey (NTRS).

The annual survey, sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business and technology research firm Rockbridge Associates Inc., found that 71 percent of adults are interested in green technology, but there is a large gap between the number of products consumers own now and the number they say they would like to own. Researchers measured respondents' interest levels for each of the green product categories and calculated market value based on average selling prices.

"The key to tapping this huge potential market is targeting and appropriately addressing the green consumer," said P.K. Kannan, director of the Center for Excellence in Service. "Our research found that green technology trends are led by a small, yet powerful group of influencers that actively act as evangelists to a secondary group of adopter"

The NTRS classifies respondents into six segments based on their commitment to green technologies, their influence on others on being green, their skepticisms about green and their interest in technology. The survey finds that those most committed to the environment -- 10 percent of adult consumers -- are also very enthusiastic about technology. These "green tech leaders" are the same consumers who are often approached by others for advice on technology and the latest gadgets and devices. The researchers urge marketers to target this segment when introducing green products and services.

"There is a great opportunity for firms to not only target these green tech leaders to adopt their green products and services, but also use them to get the word out," Kannan said. "This market segment tends to be younger, heavier users of online social media and more enthusiastic about technology in general. They write blogs and advise others, and they also create a strong social networking effect that is critical for diffusing green technology to the larger market."

"Marketers also need to be mindful of their message," said Charles Colby, president of Rockbridge Associates. "Consumers are quite sensitive to companies that don't follow through on their promises. Firms that misrepresent or exaggerate the benefits of their green technology may find it backfires with consumer hostility or rejection."

Here's a look at the findings of the 2007 NTRS:

  • 83 percent of adults want to preserve and protect the environment.
  • 42 percent of adults said products and services that help the environment are hard to find.
  • 59 percent of adults say they like trying new technologies that help the environment.
  • 56 percent of adults say gadgets designed to help the environment would be fun to own.
  • 68 percent of adults like to do business with companies that are environmentally responsible.
  • 72 percent of adults say they resent companies who say they care about the environment but are not sincere.

Countrywide Home Loans announced the retail launch of its Green Incentive Program, which will initially be available to qualified home buyers in thirteen states, including: Alaska, Colo., Iowa, Idaho, Minn., Mont., Neb., N.D., Ore., S.D., Utah, Wash., and Wyo. The program provides an interest rate reduction of .125% on a Countrywide loan used to purchase a new home that is built meeting recognized green and energy efficient standards.

"This program gives qualified home buyers more incentive to purchase energy-efficient and green-built homes," said Dave Porter, senior vice president and division builder manager for Countrywide. "Concern for the environment and saving precious natural resources doesn't have to conflict with buying a newly constructed home. Reduced interest rates, combined with the fact that most owners of green-built, energy-efficient homes pay lower monthly utility and water bills, make this program very attractive."

The Countrywide Green Incentive Program's interest rate reduction applies to newly constructed homes that meet third-party, certified standards of recognized green building programs, including Energy Star, Earth Advantage, LEED for Homes and Built Green programs of local home builder associations, as well as the National Association of Home Builder's Green Building program.

American consumers want green products and services. Real estate players, like Countrywide, will increasingly deliver 'green' related offers, for builders, should they wish to remain relevant today, and in the future, need to meet this growing need.

Note: The National Technology Readiness Survey (NTRS) is an annual study produced by Rockbridge Associates Inc. and the Center for Excellence in Service at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. For more information on the Countrywide Green Incentive Program, call 800-262-4214.

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