Marketing Shift to Come for Eco-​Friendly Products

It turns out that promoting a product or service as being green often isn’t enough to sway consumers to make a purchase. New data indicates that marketers may have been targeting the wrong consumer groups with their green pitches. And marketers must appeal to consumers in just the right way to be sure the green angle works.

For several years now, marketers have been assuming that younger consumer groups are the mostly likely to be environmentally conscious. But the latest research from The Checkout, a study published by The Integer Group and M/​A/​R/​C Research, shows that consumers over age 55 have “a higher eco-​consciousness.” As a result, this group is faster to pay for eco-​friendly products than consumers who fall into the 18–34 or the 35–44 year-​old age groups.

But the news is not all bad. Overall, about 25% of consumers will buy a green product “if it makes them feel like they are contributing to saving the environment.”  To increase the number of consumers who buy these products, marketers may need to engage in more creative marketing that has a loyalty rewards angle. In this way, merchants can ease the burden of the higher price tag affixed to many products in this category. Craig Elston, of Integer Group, says: “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.” And M/​A/​R/​C Research Executive Vice President Randy Wahl emphasizes that marketers should go a step further and promote the emotional reward that consumers feel when they are making these purchases.

This is an important finding as shoppers continue to struggle with limited budgets in the face of rising prices for many household items. In addition,  green promotions were often carried out during the month of April, to accompany Earth Day celebrations. But marketers may find that they can grow the eco-​consumer group by advertising green products and practices on a year-​round basis.

[Sources: Goetzl, David. Marketers: Use Emotional Need to Draw Eco-​Friendly. Mediapost​.com. 4 May 2011. Web. 20 May 2011; 1 in 4 shoppers willing to pay more for products. Integer Group. PerishableNews​.com. 9 May 2011. Web. 19 May 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.