Marketers Should Focus on Emotional Rewards of Being Eco-​Friendly Consumers

Nearly one in four shoppers are willing to pay more for something if it makes them feel like they are contributing to saving the environment. Shoppers ages 18 to 34 are slower to embrace making purchasing changes to benefit the environment than those shoppers ages 35 to 44 and 55 to 64, according to new data in "The Checkout," the shopper experience study currently underway by The Integer Group and M/​A/​R/​C Research. 

While college-​aged consumers are expected to quickly embrace eco-​concerns, the data shows they aren't necessarily willing to pay money to do so. Also interesting, is a higher eco-​consciousness amongst the 55+ set compared to younger generations. Results show that all consumers are willing to make easy changes such as switching out light bulbs or getting paperless statements, but when it comes to doing something that requires more time, money and effort, such as only purchasing locally-​grown organic food or carpooling, the amount of willing participants drops.

"Buying local means purchasing new products in new ways — requiring more effort behind routine shopping trips. To change behavior, the incentive must be compelling with tangible benefits," said Craig Elston, SVP, The Integer Group. "If shoppers can't see or feel an immediate reward for this new behavior — saving money, time, creating social change, etc.— they'll opt to stick with what they know. Enabling shoppers to become change agents means helping them overcome deeper psychological barriers within."

It used to be that environmental awareness was heightened just in April but it's now becoming a way of life and it's something brands and marketers should consider taking advantage of.  Instead of doing short-​term or once-​a-​year promotions surrounding Earth month, changes that are permanent or long-​term are those that create a feeling and show shoppers that companies are serious and committed and then consumers will begin to follow.

"Marketers must focus on the emotional need instead of only the functional benefits if they want to see change. They need to make it worth their while. Price and quality are largely functional benefits. An emotional reward that focuses on how consumers feel versus the functional environmental benefit is the territory in which marketers must play," said Randy Wahl, EVP, M/​A/​R/​C Research.

[Source:  "The Checkout."  The Integer Group; M/​A/​R/​C Research.  3 May 2011.  Web.  11 May 2011.]