Home > Uncategorized > Marketers Must Go “Mainstream Green” to Capitalize on Eco-Friendly Business

Marketers Must Go “Mainstream Green” to Capitalize on Eco-Friendly Business

The “green movement” has been getting a lot of attention in the past few years, and for good reason.  As time goes on, we as consumers are realizing the need to preserve scarce resources,  limit consumption and adopt sustainable practices in our day-to-day lives.  Despite this shift in emphasis toward green, eco-friendly choices, new data shows that a large portion of Americans remain hesitant when deciding whether or not to purchase green products.

In a recent case study entitled “Mainstream Green”, OgilvyEarth took a closer look at American attitudes toward the green movement and their likelihood to “go green” in their own lives. Unsurprisingly, the study found that 80% of Americans surveyed thought that green activities (using eco-friendly products, purchasing locally grown food, etc.) were important to living a sustainable lifestyle.  Despite this acknowledgment, only 50% of respondents admitted to participating in any of these activities, leaving a 30% “green gap” between knowledge and action.

The study also found that the majority of Americans (66%) are in the “middle green” section of participation.  This group is characterized by a knowledge of the importance of sustainability with little or no action.  Many of those surveyed from the “middle green” section were also more likely to see certain sustainability issues (that we are in a water crisis, that we will run out of gasoline at the current consumption rate, etc.) as hype rather than a real concern.

Overall, the study concluded that 82% of Americans have good green intentions, while only 16% are dedicated to fulfilling their intentions.

The obvious challenge for marketers is how to close this “green gap” and turn good intentions into real action, changing purchasing behavior.  Despite the recent attention the green movement has been attracting,  most companies don’t see promoting green products as good business.

The solution offered by OgilvyEarth, one that I personally agree with, is to make green mainstream.  Too often marketers focus on the 16% of those who are “super green” while failing to address the “middle green” majority discussed above.  This undoubtedly alienates the majority of American consumers.

I do my best to be as green as possible on a college budget, but when I see certain commercials advertising new green products or services, I can’t help but feel like going green is something unattainable or exclusive.  Moreover,  many of the advertisements and green movement efforts make it seem like if you’re not going completely green, you might as well not do anything at all.

By making green mainstream,  marketers will be able to better connect with the majority of consumers who realize sustainability is important but fail to act on their intentions, thus closing the green gap.  The majority of American consumers want to fit in, to be part of the group;  what they don’t want is to feel alienated or out of touch. 

If green products were presented as the norm rather than something exclusive or “cool”, mainstream consumers will be much more likely to be comfortable making that first purchase, whether it’s energy-efficient light bulbs or a new hybrid automobile.  In addition, consumers will begin to realize that there are many little, inexpensive things they can do to move toward a more sustainable lifestyle, dispelling the “all or nothing” notion presented all too often in current marketing efforts.

See OgilvyEarth’s case study “Mainstream Green” in its entirety here.

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