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Four Strategies for Green Marketing

Sarah Lozanova | Monday February 15th, 2010 | 5 Comments

Learn more about Green Marketing on our main page here.

I attended the State of Green Business Forum 2010 last week in Chicago, organized by Greener World Media.  One panel explored the topic of green marketing in the age of transparency and shared many insights.

Panelists:
Amy Hebard, co-founder and chief researcher of Earthsense
Chris Nelson, director of global commercial development for UL Environment
Suzanne Shelton, president and ceo of Shelton Group

No such thing as a green consumer

There are many motivations for purchasing more eco-friendly products, and not all of them involve saving the planet, so it is nearly impossible to create a profile for this consumer group. This varies even more when considering different categories of consumer goods. Some folks may buy energy efficient appliances to save money, while others may pay a premium for natural cosmetics because they are perceived as safer than conventional products. Although perhaps about 7 percent of consumers are motivated by altruism, the majority are motivated because they see the product as better in some way for themselves (such as health, lower energy cost, or safety). In many cases, the green product is the tiebreaker or the cherry on top, thus green consumers must see the product as the same, or better, than the competition.

Most rely on the packaging for information

According to the consumer study, Eco Pulse 2009, by the Shelton Group, product labels are more important than advertising for finding out about green products.  Of course untruthful labels can be illegal by breaking Fair Trade Commission Standards or considered to be greenwashing by consumers, so creating an affective label can be a tricky task.

“There is a lack of trust in the marketplace,” says Chris Nelson. For this reason, he considers the creation of standards to be particularly important.  UL Environment is currently creating standards for green building products that will assist the LEED building certification process.

Make green purchasing easy

“Consumers don’t want to work hard,” says Amy Hebard. “They don’t want to be mini scientists.” Although some of us may use iPhone applications like GoodGuide, most don’t want to have to work so hard to make purchasing decisions.

Shelton gave the example of Walmart selling only highly concentrated laundry detergent. “Walmart is making it hard to not make a green choice.”

Avoid negative or preachy marketing messages

Purchasing is an emotional decision, rarely a logical one. Consumer decisions are made because a product is perceived to have a higher value to them. Consider the question, “What’s in it for me?”

“It’s better to sell deeper human benefits,” says Suzanne Shelton. “How do they market beer? By promising you are going to get laid.”

This concept doesn’t necessarily apply to business-to-business purchases however, where specifications and the cost of ownership data often trump emotions. Joel Makower pointed out that this is often due to the large volume purchases. For example, if 2,000 computers are inefficient, it will make a much bigger impact on the bottom line than a personal purchase of just one computer.

 

Sarah Lozanova is the director of marketing for Bubble Train Toys and is passionate about the new green economy and is a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Natural Home & Garden, Energy International Quarterly, Triple Pundit, Green Business Quarterly, Renewable Energy World, and Green Business Quarterly. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative.


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  • http://blog.brochuresprintingonline.com/ Brochures Printing Online

    I strongly agree with point #4. A lot of eco-friendly products “scare” consumers in order to draw them in. The truth is, the more they preach, the more consumers turn away. It's always best to talk about the benefits customers can get from a product to help them in their buying decision.

  • http://www.sheltongroupinc.com/ Shelton Group

    Thanks so much for writing a great recap of the marketing panel at the State of Green Business Forum. Here at Shelton Group, we were glad to be a part of it all. If anyone is interested in more information about Shelton Group, as mentioned above, please visit * http://www.sheltongroupinc.com *.

  • Pingback: People Won’t Buy Green for Green’s Sake | Geoff Livingston's Blog

  • http://www.greenmarketing.com/ Jacquie Ottman

    I couldn't agree more that consumers are motivated by personal interests. We have a new segmentation of green consumers by four areas of personal interests. It can be accessed here: http://www.greenmarketing.com/blog/comments/a-s

    thanks for a nice summary.

  • http://www.greenmarketing.com/ Jacquie Ottman

    I couldn't agree more that consumers are motivated by personal interests. We have a new segmentation of green consumers by four areas of personal interests. It can be accessed here: http://www.greenmarketing.com/blog/comments/a-s

    thanks for a nice summary.

  • http://www.brightgreenleadership.com Amy Wike

    These are great tips for green marketing strategies for businesses. Hopefully more will start incorporating them.