By Matthew Ellis
With 215 million adults in this country, an estimated 41 million of those are LOHAS consumers (consumers dedicated to Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) and they represent a marketplace of about $290 billion dollars, “but their power as a consumer market remains virtually untapped” (www.lohas.com). With numbers like these, businesses can’t afford not to make steps towards addressing this market and becoming part of the environmental initiation. It’s like an untapped oil field, but instead of wreaking havoc on the Earth you’re actually promoting the planet’s health. This is a win-win situation for just about any company (except for those in the oil business, but even some of them are starting to explore green energy solutions).
Of course, the ways in which a business can integrate sustainability and environmentally safe practices are as varied as the species of flora in the rainforest. Many companies have tried to switch to paperless systems of payments and/or customer notifications, utilizing emails and electronic bill-pay management web systems. Other companies have switched to using only recycled materials.
There are now a multitude of restaurants committed to serving only local produce and meat or fish that is environmentally sustainable. Some of the larger businesses have begun converting their offices, or designed new offices, towards green building technology using anything from increasing water efficiency to constructing green roofs. However, if your business has decided to implement “going green” into your model, getting the word out to customers should be the next step.
Don’t be shy about awareness
Concerning the customers, LOHAS adds that “focus on Personal Development, with the ultimate goal of achieving his or her full human potential, is of utmost concern to the LOHAS consumer” (www.lohas.com). The spirituality of the consumer has entered the marketplace, and, according to the earlier numbers, precipitated a quarter of a trillion dollars in commerce. Businesses have to speak to this concept of personal development for the consumer and those that provide an opportunity to appease their ecological consciousness are going to win out over businesses that don’t. Flaunt your awareness and your commitment. Share with the customer that you both have the same values at heart and your business is doing its part. Incorporate your green agenda into your advertising and promotional materials.
Let your employees talk
Going green can have an impact on your customers through other, more indirect methods, as well. According to the Harvard Business Review on Green Business Solutions, green buildings promote “lower utility costs, greater employee productivity, less absenteeism, and stronger attraction and retention of workers” (Lockwood, 2007.) While those gains don’t have to be reiterated, what might be noted is the effect green buildings have on improving the work experience for the employee and the implied transitive effects those might have on customer sales and services.
This is another selling point as customers want to deal with companies that want to deal with them which can translate into a better customer experience and a stronger company. If this idea sounds elementary, it’s because it is, but it remains effective, nonetheless. Your employees can become another outlet for promoting your environmentalism towards customers; they’re already participating in the call to help sustain our environment, why not have them share their experiences with your customers?
Show your support
Another way to get the word out about your company’s environmental lean is to join or support green events going on your area. Review your area; find out what kinds of green events are taking place and how you can get involved. Volunteering at a co-op or sponsoring a farmers market, company participation in hikes and Habitat for Humanity, these are just several ways in which your company can get more involved and spread the word that your business “gets it” and is part of the solution. However you decide to participate, the point is to become a more visible proponent of the community in which you are already a part.
Good customer rapport is about developing connections and sharing ideals, becoming part of a community. With 41 million consumers subscribing to a belief in environmentalism, the community is there and your business is a part of it. Get out and meet them, interact with them on the basis of these shared ideals. You’ve nothing to lose and the world to gain.
Matthew Ellis writes about sales for companies like Acquirent. After working in traditional face-to-face sales for years, he’s recently become interested in how sales, the internet, and green business practices can all function together.