The time has come for companies to think differently about their environmental efforts. To be sure, it’s refreshing to see more and more companies stepping up to the plate and making significant changes to their operations and investing in infrastructure in an effort to gain environmental benefits. These are extremely important steps, and by no means do I want to discourage any company from taking them.
But it’s time for the leaders to move on. It’s time that they look outside their four walls and find ways to connect with their customers in ways that help the environment. It goes beyond green products and competitive pricing; it’s about partnering with their customers for a better environment.
My company, EcoUnit, recently conducted a research study among our members to gain a better understanding of the awareness levels and priorities of eco-minded consumers. What we learned blew me away. The vast majority of consumers are prepared to move their business to other companies – grocery stores, electronics manufacturers, even banks – if those companies provide eco-friendly alternatives and reward customers for choosing them. For more competitive industries like grocery stores, fully 67% of respondents said they would “definitely change” and another 30% said they “might change”. Even for banks, traditionally a “sticky” industry, 47% said they would “definitely change” and another 42% said they “might change”. We recently put a release out with more details on the study – check it out.
So what’s this tell us? It tells us that there is a gigantic opportunity for innovators and leaders in virtually every industry to build eco-programs that connect with their customer, with the result being good for the environment and a huge competitive advantage for the company.
Given EcoUnit’s business model, it occurred to me that I may be a bit biased, so I looked for supporting evidence. What I found was a mountain of data from some of the most respected names in eco-research including LOHAS, NMI, and Hartman. Each of the articles is worth a quick read. Check them out at LOHAS, NMI, and Hartman.
So if your a customer, you’re probably already looking for those companies who share your values and want to prove this to you by rewarding you when you choose the eco-friendly path – whether that’s choosing online statements over paper or using your reusable bag instead of paper or plastic. If you’re a company, you had better figure out how this new consumer expectation fits into your business and what steps you can take to make a meaningful connection with your customers around the environment.
Kent Ragen is CEO of EcoUnit, the rewards program for eco-conscious consumers. Learn more and become a member at www.ecounit.com.