Is It Good to Be Green In Your Marketing?

TNS, a world leader in market insight and information, released the results of “The Green Life”, a groundbreaking global study assessing how consumers around the globe are responding to the challenge to “go green.” The study takes an in-depth look at global consumers and how environmental issues have impacted their lifestyles, attitudes and purchase behaviors.

What I wanted to find out through my research was whether a green marketing strategy would be effective. I personally make every effort I can to recycle, reducing consumption, save energy and reduce waste, but am I the only one?

Well I’m not the only one, but I am in a select group. The survey found that just 26 percent of Americans saying they “actively seek environmentally friendly products.”

The bottom line…The Green Life reveals a clear intent from U.S. consumers, at least hypothetically, to be environmentally conscious. Businesses have an opportunity to capitalize on these good intentions, given they provide affordable and convenient options.

What does that mean for marketers if consumers are unwilling to make lifestyle changes in their own buying habits? How much goodwill will you generate by adding “green” to your marketing? The study points out;

“the value of green marketing is not so much reaping the goodwill, but avoiding upsetting consumers who actively practice environmentally friendly behavior.”

It was interesting to learn how environmental conscienciousness (that is a hard word to spell) varies around the world. TNS research experts compared consumer responses from 17 different countries across 5 continents.

Responses from the developed nations (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Germany, Hong Kong and Korea) were invariably clustered at the least environmentally conscious and responsible end of the spectrum. Developing nations (Mexico, Thailand, Brazil and Malaysia) showed the highest concern for the environment and greatest willingness to take action and seek out ‘greener’ products.

The survey found that just 26 percent of Americans saying they “actively seek environmentally friendly products.” Additionally, 44 percent of U.S. respondents are skeptical that global warming exists or don’t believe it at all. Illogically, over 90 percent also say that the environment influences their day-to-day purchasing decisions. This apparent disconnect poses an undeniable challenge for marketers attempting to create an effective environmental marketing strategy.

In a global poll by Nielsen (Adweek’s parent company), about half the respondents said they’d forgo packaging provided for “convenience purposes” if it would help the environment, but only 27 percent would give up packaging designed to keep products “clean and untouched by others.”

In a recent annual Gallup Environment poll they found just 28% of Americans reporting they have made “major changes” in their lifestyles to protect the environment. Fifty-five percent have made “minor changes.”

The most common response is recycling — or recycling more than in the past — mentioned by 39%.
Roughly one in four have taken steps to conserve fuel, including 17% who say they have cut back on driving, and 9% who report driving a more fuel-efficient car.

About the same proportion have taken steps to conserve energy in the home, including using less electricity (10%), buying energy-saving light bulbs (7%), upgrading to energy-saving appliances (4%), and making their homes more energy efficient overall (2%) — such as by installing new windows or adding insulation.

So what does all this mean Mike? In my opinion regardless of the fact that the majority of consumers are not tuning into a green message I am going to continue sending it. I don’t want to offend the 26% who care and I think the trend to thinking about the environment is tracking higher so I am not going to lose customers of I use green in my marketing.

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