Many of you have probably had it with energy efficiency and environmental marketing. You have been as greened as Kermit in a bed of lettuce. You’ve been Al Gored on the issue to the point of wanting to chop down every tree hugger in sight.
A seminar at the International Housewares Association’s recent CHESS session added some crucial data to the green story from the consumer’s perspective. Delivered by Suzanne Shelton, president of Shelton Group, a marketing and advertising firm, it presented the findings from a recent survey of consumer attitudes about sustainable and energy-efficient products.
The poll found that green isn’t a winning message for every consumer. In many shoppers’ minds, Shelton said, the equation is energy-efficient plus green equals more expensive. For many consumers, even those in higher-income demographic groups, price still rules in choosing a product.
Talking specifically about small electrics, consumers told the pollsters that the product had better work, too. It’s by no means enough for a blender to be energy-efficient. If it doesn’t do the job chopping up veggies, it will soon decorate a nearby landfill.
In addition, according to Shelton, consumers have become skeptical of green claims. You have to prove to them that it takes less juice to operate your juicer.
Yet the survey also produced some good news for Gang Green. Consumers do recognize that their energy consumption is a problem. More than three out of five survey participants were worried about climate change, and the respondents showed themselves to be well educated on renewable energy alternatives. “Once you prove that your product is energy-efficient, the likelihood is that if you use green advertising, it’ll work,” Shelton said.
The three most common green advertising messages are that if you use our energy-efficient product, you’ll save money, save our planet and save us from foreign oil. But Shelton said you have to go deeper. “You have to tap into their satisfaction at doing something good,” she said. “You want shoppers to say to themselves, ‘If I do something to help the planet, it makes me happy. I get peace of mind and a sense of control when I lower my electric bills. Less dependence on foreign oil brings me a feeling of greater safety.’ ”
If you’re still unconvinced about green marketing, Shelton suggested that you consider the examples of Wal-Mart, Toyota, General Electric and Whole Foods. All of these companies have put their money where their mouths are on green. Surveys conducted by Yankelovich and Interbrand have made plain the goodwill these firms have accumulated among consumers for their efforts.
There’s another reason to go green on marketing your products: greater profit. Shelton said if you make the pitch believable, such an effort could buy you as much as a 10 percent price premium on your products.
More green from green? Now that’s a healthy environment.
David Gill is the senior editor, housewares and bedding, for HFN. He can be reached at email@example.com .