Friday, April 27, 2007

How green are your consumers?

Maine Today
Laurie Banks

Friday, April 27, 2007

Marketers take note: It's a green consumer audience and it's getting greener every week. Can you feel it? More green-targeted news stories every day, more attention being paid to carbon footprints, more pressure to understand and be part of this latest trend.

There are signs of the "greening of America" everywhere. And people agree, that's a good thing. To satisfy the demands of this growing consumer segment, marketers are reaching deep into the "green" list of features and benefits for all kinds of products and services, finding the power of an "Energy Star" endorsement and calculating the cost/benefit of a low carbon policy.

But who are these green consumers and what motivates them to buy?

A recent marketing assignment led us to dig deep into the mind-set of the new American green consumer. Here is what we found.

Historically, green products were seen as inconvenient and expensive, and their use often included a sacrifice in performance.

Now, consumers' perceptions are changing. More and more, the image of green products might include being efficient, cost-effective, high-performing, convenient, healthy or safe. Sometimes ownership carries an enhanced social status; think of a solar home or a hybrid automobile.

Of course, we don't all buy in to being green to the same degree. The Ropers ASW Green Gauge Report has done a great job of segmenting and describing consumers so that marketers will have an easier time of matching message to audience.

In the world of green marketing, here is how consumers stack up:

- 9 percent are True Blue Greens - defined as most interested and typically an influencer of others; highly educated with higher incomes.

- 6 percent are Greenback Greens - these people vote with their pocketbook. They are interested in environmental issues but not always willing to spend that extra cash. They are unwilling to sacrifice comfort and convenience.

- 31 percent are Sprouts - a marketer's dream, these environmental fence-sitters are undecided consumers. They evaluate environmental issues one at a time and are willing to listen and compare each purchase to their personal benefits or costs.

- 19 percent are Grousers - You might have your own mental image, but Ropers defines this group as disinterested. For them, environmental issues are too big and too complicated to address.

- 33 percent are Basic Browns - those with the least amount of interest. Notice that they are also the largest segment. They typically have finished high school and earn a modest income.

Ready to add "green" to your marketing palette? Here is what you need to know.

For most consumers - regardless of the tendencies we just listed ­ product purchase and consumption are the primary ways Americans feel they help out the environment.

Ask yourself: Where are your products or services on the path to greenness? They could be marketed as such if you adopt or promote one or more of these directions:

1. Adding value to your process. Perhaps you could introduce some new technology or a modification of existing technology to reduce your product's environmental impact.

2. Changes in the way you do business. Can you establish or ensure implementation of systems that promote higher environmental, health or safety standards?

3. Altering what the product is made of. You might be able to switch to environmentally safe raw materials or components that make up your product.
One word of caution, though: Beware of so-called Green Washing, which is the tendency to overstate your company's environmental benefits. Once you are labeled as a Green Washer, it might take years for your company to recover the impression that you deliver a trusted message.

There are many driving forces that motivate a marketing movement. For boomers, the concern might be helping to shape their grandchildren's world; for the millennium or mi generation segment, a growing concern with the state of their planet might be part of their social fiber and core values.

No matter whom you target, consider how your process and product affects the environment, and make sure you communicate the truthful environmental benefits your company brings to your consumers' life.

1 comment:

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog