CB055213In this post, Robert focuses on the green marketing gap, the perception gap that exists and results in most Americans perceiving green as an elitist phenomena. He outlines some of the principle problems that have caused this state of affairs to develop and argues that marketing should be geared to reinforcing the benefits that your product offers the planet.

by Robert Piller, President, Eco Marketing Solutions. Robert has worked to help plant over 25 million trees through his live tree seedling gift program over the past dozen years. Read his blog GreenSpotBlog.com; follow Robert on twitter @ecomarketing; reach him on Linkein.

Green marketing messages targeting mainstream American consumers are missing the mark, according to a study released this week by consultant group OgilvyEarth.

The study, “Mainstream Green: Moving Sustainability from Niche to Normal” provides insight on how to close the Green Gap that persists between what consumers say and what they actually do around sustainable living.

One of their findings is that Green feels like niche rather than normal. Existing green marketing is either irrelevant or even alienating to most Americans, the study asserts. 

Half of Americans think green and environmentally friendly products are marketed to “Crunchy Granola Hippies” or “Rich Elitist Snobs” rather than “Everyday Americans.”

[See related post: “Green Marketing Not Over, Just Misdirected“, for a further discussion on this subject.]

What can we, as green marketers do about it?

I think that we have already preached to the choir…and grabbed all the low hanging fruit, no pun intended. The “greenies” are already aboard They are very committed to environmental issues and they do their best to reduce their carbon footprint.

Now, the next area to target would be the indifferent or occasional greens. These would be similar to the independent voters, if this analogy was an election and green was the candidate.

Many of the non-committers want to buy green products, but there are a few too many roadblocks standing in the way, such as:

• price points – which often tend to be higher on green products
• inconvenience – not having a good choice of product available at their favorite retail establishments
• confusion – as far as why a particular product is more environmentally friendly tan an alternative
• awareness – the environment is still not top of mind for many consumers
• indifference – they’ll buy green products on occasions, but it is not their highest priority while shopping

We must not let these five issues get in the way of marketing and promoting your green products or services.

Your marketing should be geared to reinforcing the benefits that your product offers the planet. Do not assume that a little green eco symbol is all that it takes to attract people.

If the benefits are understood and clearly labeled (pictures help–they really are worth a thousand words), green product sales will increase ..and the green elitist connotation will eventually subside.

It takes time — just think how long it took for smoking to become a negative connotation vs. its previous sexy or debonair persona.

Hopeful, instead of greenies being thought of as elitists, people who do not make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint will be thought of in a negative light (like racists, bigots, homophobes, drinking and driving, smokers, etc.) All those behaviors were accepted at one point in time, but are looked down upon today.

There is only one Planet Earth – we all need to make Going Green the Right Way–not a Niche Way of Thinking.

Here’s to a greener tomorrow, today.

[Another perspective is provided in our related post: “Focus on Value Drives Growth in Green Consumerism“, in which Jackie makes the argument that green values are becoming increasingly important to many consumers.]


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© 2011, Robert Piller. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Robert Piller (1 Articles)

Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, helps businesses and organizations that are “going green” to promote their brands utilizing environmentally-friendly imprinted promotional products, such as recycled tote bags, biodegradable water bottles, writing instruments, journals and more. These eco-friendly marketing and branding programs are designed to improve the impact of a company’s image, create sales, ensure repeat business and a continuous stream of referrals. Follow Robert Piller on Twitter @ecomarketing. Connect with him on Linkedin. Read and comment on the Green Spot Blog.