Consumers are “cynical and wary” of eco car ads

Car marques are confusing drivers with green messaging in advertising and should focus on price, to encourage sales.


Consumers are “cynical and wary” of green messages in car advertising, because they are not “informative or clear”, according to a study by digital agency Specific Media.

The study highlights that car brands could be missing out on sales by focussing on green messages without putting it in to cost terms for cash-strapped consumers.

It found that price is the most important factor for 87% of all motorists when buying a new car, followed by fuel consumption (79%).

Only a quarter of motorists consider the environmental impact of vehicles when buying a new car and only 5.7% cite eco factors as most important.

While almost eight in ten (78%) of motorists would consider buying a “green” car, more than half (57%) would not pay a premium for it.

Earlier this year, the Government outlined proposals for car marques to include information on costs in brand communications to help consumers make more sustainable choices. Volkswagen’s current “Think Blue” ad (pictured), outlines the car manufacturers commitment to sustainability.

Chris Worrell, European research manager at Specific Media, says: “Contrary to popular perception, there is not an army of environmental car crusaders waiting to go green. This research shows that by highlighting the environmental credentials of their models, manufacturers are not only speaking to just a tiny fraction of their potential audience, they may actually be turning consumers off their brands.

“The continuing economic uncertainty means that the majority of consumers are concerned with hard financial benefits. Online advertising allows manufacturers to develop distinct messages for specific cohorts of consumers, so brands should be looking to deliver tailor-made messages.”

Specific Media interviewed 1,009 UK driving license holders between via the Research Now panel in July.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here