Power Electronics
Survey Finds Consumers Grow Weary of Wall Warts

Survey Finds Consumers Grow Weary of Wall Warts

A survey commissioned by one power electronics company finds that over 60% of American consumers view incompatible power adapters as “wasteful” or “frustrating.” These responses reflect concerns about the proliferation of unused adapters, the associated waste and cost, and the inconvenience caused by dependence on product-specific adapters. However, the survey found that consumer attitudes do vary according to age, income, household status, and geographic region. The nationwide survey was conducted on behalf of Green Plug, the San Ramon, Calif. provider of component technologies that make external power adapters more efficient and universal.

In association with Chicago market researcher Synovate, Green Plug asked 1,000 online consumers about their attitude toward purchasing consumer electronics devices, which typically come with external power supplies that don’t work with any other product. According to the survey, conducted in April, 31% of respondents said they regard incompatible power supplies as “wasteful” and have many unused adapters just lying around.

Meanwhile 30% described the situation as “frustrating”— agreeing that forgetting to bring the right charger when leaving the house can prevent the use of an important device such as a laptop or cell phone. Another 18% said they had never thought about the situation before, 13% percent said it doesn’t really bother them, and 8% said it’s “costly.” The latter response refers to the situation where consumers have had to purchase replacements when forgetting to bring the required charger to the office, school or on a trip.

“As our survey demonstrates so clearly, consumers want the power to be free of incompatible power supplies and adaptors,” said Frank Paniagua, Jr., CEO and founder, Green Plug. “If you laid the average consumer’s power cords end-to-end, you might be able to reach the nearest landfill. That’s where hundreds of millions of power supplies will end up this year, as they did last year and the year before that.

“Consumers have had enough,” Paniagua said. “They want fewer chargers and they want more efficiency, so that devices can be charged universally and conveniently. They do not want to think about whether they brought the right charger for the device they have. And they want green devices. Underscoring our findings, Forrester Research recently revealed that 25 million U.S. adults are willing to spend more for gadgets that use less energy or employ environmentally conscious design.”

The survey revealed that demographics play a role in consumer attitudes toward power adapters. For instance, older respondents expressed greater concern about waste. Nearly 43% of those in the 45 to 54 age bracket cited waste as their prime concern versus 18.5% of those 18 to 24. Greenplug suggests that this may reflect the fact that older consumers have acquired more consumer electronics devices than younger consumers.

By contrast, that youngest demographic (14%) is more concerned about cost than any other age group. By a wide margin, 41% of those in the 25 to 34 age bracket called the situation “frustrating.” Those 18% to 24% are least likely to have thought about the problem (23%) or be bothered by it (18%).

Income is another factor according to the survey. Among income groups, those in the highest bracket (with annual incomes greater than $75,000) were most likely to consider the proliferation of power cords as wasteful (36%). That figure represents more than a 10-point margin over those with incomes of less than $25,000. Nearly 10% of those in the highest income bracket cited cost as a concern, which surprisingly is a greater number than those in the lowest income group.

Meanwhile, parents expressed frustration with the incompatibility of power adapters. Thirty-four percent of respondents with kids cited the frustration associated with not having the right power cord at hand, against 27% of those without children. For households with children, the issue of forgetting the charger outweighed concerns over waste and cost.

Regional differences in attitudes were also discovered. Southerners were most concerned about waste (34%), while for Midwesterners, frustration ranks first (also at 34%). Those in the Northeast and the Midwest were relatively less concerned about waste (27%). In addition, southerners were more concerned about cost (10%) than those in other regions.

The Green Plug/Synovate survey has a margin of error of ±3%. For a full copy of the survey results and a graphic presentation of top-line data, email [email protected].

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