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Archive for the ‘Green Marketing’ Category

Thanks to Craig Nelson, over at World Changing for alerting me to the latest GFK Roper Poll on Americans’ Green or Environmentally Responsible New Year’s Resolutions for 2008:

  1. 49% of all American adults say they will make a green New Year’s resolution this year.
  2. Reducing household energy usage was cited as the most likely to be undertaken in 2008, cited by 75% of respondents.
  3. It was followed by recycling more (74%).
  4. And reducing the use of harmful household chemicals (66%).
  5. Carrying fabric bags to the supermarket (42%) and reducing one’s “carbon footprint” (43%) were the least frequently cited.
  6. The survey found that, in general, the more involved or personally demanding an environmental responsibility, the lower the response.
  7. 9 in 10 Americans say it’s important to take actions in their personal lives (recycling, giving blood, conserving energy, etc.) to address social issues, but not nearly as many are actually doing so. We want to help, but between family and work, we’re stretched thin. The easier we can make it for individuals to act on their good intentions, the better. There’s a lesson in that for businesses looking to leverage the growing green sensibility.
  8. 58% of Americans 18 to 24 said they would make a green New Year’s resolution for 2008. That compares with 50% of Americans 50 to 64 and 40% of Americans 65+.
  9. 31% admitted to feeling guilty in recent years about not living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Women (36%) are more likely than men (26%) to feel “green guilt.

This is very interesting, and has obvious implications for the green marketer:

  1. Target women
  2. Go for the younger crowd
  3. Make it easier on people
  4. Hot areas: lower energy use, recycling, natural products that are free of harmful chemicals.

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According to the updated Green Brands 2.5 Research, there is an up tick in purchase intent for most consumers when it comes to green products and services, particularly those that are relatively simple to implement such as installing environmentally friendly lighting and upgrading to energy-saving appliances.

Other attitudinal shifts worth noting:

  • 90% of Americans agree that there are important green issues and problems, and 82% believe it is important for companies to implement environmentally-friendly practices.
  • Consumers perceive green as a direct and positive reflection of their social status, in addition to recognizing its broader value to society and the world.
  • Bright Greens remain sad and skeptical about the future outlook and one in three feel anger about the situation. They care most about the environment, animal rights and education.
  • One in five Dull Greens is satisfied with the current state of the environment. Dull Greens prioritize crime reduction, religious organizations and health care as their main causes.

As encouraging as these findings maybe overall, one should not forget the difference between absolute versus relative data. While it may be true that the majority of Americans care about the environment, voters’ polling data shows that green is not a priority, relative to other issues such as the war in Iraq, immigration, national security, jobs/unemployment, health care, and education.

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Market researchers are all trying to classify consumers’ attitudes into various shades of green. And using different words to describe similar categories of green consumers. Where the Green Gauge Report sees consumers split between, True Blue Greens, Green Back Greens, Sprouts, Grousers, and Apathetics, the folks at PSB research propose instead a different segmentation in their Green Brands 2.0 Study:

  • Bright Greens (34%), instead of True Blue Greens (30%)

The most skeptical and the most convinced that things are going in the wrong direction (a “bunker” mentality). Therefore they are the most likely to demand “green” steps on the part of companies – and at the same time the most likely to complain about these companies not taking green far enough.
These are, in the language of a political campaign, the key “swing” voters. They are younger and energized – the most likely to be speaking out, writing letters to the paper, etc., about global warming and government and corporate environmental responsibility. Because they feel things are going so badly, they raise the bar enormously high. Their touchstone is pure green, not shades of green. They look to Greenpeace and other environmental NGO’s for in-depth information about all green issues, including consumer products.
At the same time, however, the bright greens still need to buy groceries, household products, appliances, and cars. Within categories where there are greener choices, they will help anoint the best of breed. They are both your Opinion Leaders in the category and your most severe critics.

  • Green Motivated (10%), instead of Green Back Greens (10%)

They want green, but are optimistic about the way things are going. They are likely to accept corporate “green” programs at face value and as a step in the right direction.

  • Green Hypocrites (26%), instead of Sprouts (26%)

They like to talk about green, but don’t want to go out of their way – not even slightly out of their way for it. Slap a green smiley face on it and they’re on board.

  • Green Ignorants (19%) and Dull Greens (11%), instead of Grousers (15%), and Apathetics (18%)

They are simply unengaged in the issue. Green isn’t particularly motivating, but it’s not a negative either.

Personally, I find this second classification more relevant to how I think as a consumer. More straightforward, and easier to grasp.

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Featured on TechCrunch, Carbon Rally, the latest player in green social networking:

CarbonRally applies gaming and social networking concepts to environmental activism by challenging participants to take positive steps against carbon emissions. Boston based CarbonRally offers a series of carbon reducing challenges, such as not drinking bottled water, dumping shopping bags and leaving your car at home, whereby users can compete against others to become the most carbon friendly participant. Current users include Google’s offices in Boston and Pittsburgh who are openly aiming to beat one and other. The competition is all in good fun with no prizes offered, however CarbonRally is looking at corporate sponsorship of challenges in the future. If you’re passionate about carbon emissions, CarbonRally providers a fun and friendly forum from which you can join others in saving the world.

This is a great example of well understood green psychology translated into a brilliantly executed business idea. Americans love to compete, and play. Take those traits, apply them to real life micro-communities, with a twist of corporate pressure, and you’ve got a great recipe for inducing positively green behavioral changes. Fundamentally, human beings are pleasure seeking creatures. Let’s not forget that basic psychological truth, in our efforts to get people to green their lifestyles.

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Interpreted from the Green Gauge Report, here are the four main factors that influence Americans’ (not so) green behaviors:

1) Lack of actionable information, with half of consumers who claim they,

  • do not have the information to be personally involved in increasing their green behavior
  • aren’t sure which products and packaging materials are recyclable
  • would do more for the environment if they only knew how
  • they have questions about the true impact of green products

2) Lack of convenient solutions to accommodate people’s increasingly busy lifestyles, with half admitting they know they should make the green lifestyle changes but are too busy

3) Cost of green products compared to traditional alternatives

4) Need to protect personal/family health is cited by an equal number of consumers (52%) as looking to personally protect the environment, as reason why they seek environmental information.

Sounds fair enough!

Lots of blame has been placed on the American consumer for resisting the green wave. Maybe policy makers, influencers, and green marketers ought to show some more empathy towards themselves and others, and make sure they deliver on the following seven green marketing promises:

  1. Clear, simple ‘how to’ green messages, asking people to do one thing at a time
  2. Information support structures to help people navigate the green landscape, truly designed to make their lives easier, not burden them with more
  3. More visible and clear recycling directions on product packaging
  4. Trusted sustainability standards for all products
  5. Provide green solutions that are at least as easy and convenient as traditional products and services
  6. Lower costs so that cost does not become a barrier to adoption, including creative financing solutions for higher ticket items, eg, community purchase plans
  7. Whenever possible tie in personal/family health into the environmental equation.

I would like to end by commenting on my use of the word marketing. I have noticed ‘marketing’ is getting a bad rap in some of the more pure green circles. That is unfortunate. Marketing, like any powerful tools, can be used for either positive, or negative means. According to the American Marketing Association,

Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.

The larger organization at stake is the world, and its stakeholders are all the people on the planet. The value to be created is a sustainable, healthier, greener world.

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The Green Bracelet from Simmons Jewelry is tempting me. It is hard to resist green malachite, rough diamond, and a little bit of gold, all thrown into a great looking bracelet, for a Green cause, and for only $125. Could it be that I can satisfy my shopping urges and do good, both at the same time? Green is becoming the new land of opportunities for marketers of all sorts. And a new outlet for the Green Wannabes like me, who still want to shop, but without the guilt. Which raises the question of, is it possible to be green and a consumer? Green citizen, yes. But green consumer? Sounds like the oxymoron of the twenty first century.

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Long blog posts are scary. Very rarely, do I read them completely. At best, I will skim through them, and then skip commenting, because I am not sure I really got what the post was about to begin with. Give me a short post, and I will consume it in a second. I will even leave you a comment. This is not unlike global warming. Global feels big, which it is. And out of my league. I can’t process that much, all at once. You need to feed it to me in small bites, instead.

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Is it green or not? That’s all I want to know. No in between, no nuances. Give it to me straight, so that my simple mind can get it. If it is not quite accurate, that’s ok. Better a simplistic answer that will get me moving, than an accurate one that leaves me wondering what to do next. I am looking for a place where I can find easy, practical answers, not comparative essays. Most of us know there is a big problem. Most of us are willing to do something about it. Next comes the difficult part. What to do? I yet have to find that one magical site on the Internet, that gives me all the answers I need. If you know of one, please drop a note, so that we can share it. And if I get desperate enough, who knows, I may just create such a place.

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I was proud of myself today. I took a whole hour, out of my already busy day, to bring my old PowerBook to the FedEx store for recycling. There was only one glitch. The Apple folks sent me an incomplete email, without the necessary bar code to make the FedEx transaction possible. I called Apple Customer Service, and was placed on hold for a good fifteen minutes. Once I got through, it was another fifteen minutes of questioning, and in the end no resolution. I was told to go home, pull out my Apple receipt, and then log onto the website, so that they can send me another email, this one hopefully with the magic bar code. I started wavering, considering other options. I could just ditch the thing at Goodwill, although it is totally broken, and then who knows what they will do with it. I even considered the ultimate crime, throwing it in the garbage. I became angry at Apple for sabotaging my best intentions. What will happen to the old computer? Right now, it is sitting on the floor, by my desk. It will be a while, before I take another shot at recycling it. In the mean time, I have decided to hold off on my criminal urges. It will be saved from the landfill, or another uncertain fate.

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