Are low-carbon innovations appealing? A typology of functional, symbolic, private and public attributes

Pettifor, H., Wilson, C. ORCID:, Bogelein, S., Cassar, E., Kerr, L., & Wilson, M. (2020). Are low-carbon innovations appealing? A typology of functional, symbolic, private and public attributes. Energy Research & Social Science 64 e101422. 10.1016/j.erss.2019.101422.

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Attributes are central to understanding the consumer appeal of low carbon innovations. In this paper we provide a comprehensive understanding of the wide ranging attributes of low carbon innovations. We use a two-by-two dimensional typology which identifies four discrete domains of attribute: private functional, public functional, private symbolic, and public symbolic. Using structured elicitation with over 65 people we examine perceived attributes of 12 consumer innovations in mobility, food, homes and energy. We find that low carbon innovations are relatively unappealing against the private functional and symbolic attributes valued by potential mainstream consumers. This includes features such as money saving, time saving, ease of access, ease of use, trust, and private identity. They are, however, highly appealing against many public functional and symbolic attributes including a range of social and environmental benefits. Food innovations in particular have high social appeal where they support local businesses, protect and build communities around food and build community spirit. Home innovations such as smart appliances and smart lighting are highly appealing because they are novel yet also fit within current social norms. Low carbon innovations based on the sharing economy model offer unique sources of added value related to the creation of social institutions and localised networks. It is important that low carbon innovations are positioned within the marketplace so as to emphasise unique sources of added value within the public domain rather than compete directly with established incumbents whose business models are largely built on volume, scale and costs.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Low carbon innovations; Diffusion; Attributes; Structured elicitation; Repertory grid technique
Research Programs: Transitions to New Technologies (TNT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2020 07:17
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:32

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