Are we “Green”? Should we be “Greener”? What is “Green”, anyway? As an agency, we hear all sorts of questions about the Green Movement, from the brands we work with and the consumers we talk to. So we started digging for answers.
We asked consumers what they look for from companies, as well as themselves, as they strive to be more environmentally friendly. What we unearthed is a solid understanding of Green, what it is and where it’s going. How this information translates to your business is as exciting as it is essential.
WHAT WE DID
- Online survey of 3,200 respondents ages 18–49
- 40 consumer shopping logs
- Multiple video interviews
KEY QUESTIONS ANSWERED
- What is “Green”?
- What makes consumers skeptical of green messaging?
- How and when can consumers get involved with the Green Movement?
- What are best practices?
- How might this affect your bottom line?
AMP'S DEFINITION OF GREEN
Moving toward making as little a negative impact on the Earth as possible.
Green is the color of business
Over the years environmentalism has taken on many forms and has entered into the business place in a variety of ways. Never before, however, has it been so clear that joining the Green Movement is a sink or swim situation. Going green is becoming increasingly mainstream, with 53% of consumers stating that a company’s social and environmental activities generally factor into their purchase decisions. In order for companies to remain competitive, therefore, they need to begin to address their negative impact on the Earth and work to reduce it. Of equal importance, companies must be sure to effectively communicate their green efforts to consumers.
We all know that crisis often brings opportunity, and this un- doubtedly rings true for the environmental emergency we are now confronted with. Within the last few decades we have seen Green making its mark in the form of product innovation, alternative energy sources, decreased waste, and expanded recycling programs, among many business practices. Consumers have responded favorably, but have raised the bar and are demanding more. Consumers view companies as large institutions with the financial resources and the power to make significant environmentally conscious changes, and feel it is their moral and ethical responsibility to do so. Many companies are reacting appropriately and are offering consumers what they are looking for. In the end, companies are finding, these changes can be quite profitable. It goes without saying, then, that those companies who are not looking to change, as well as those who are not talking about their efforts, will soon find themselves left behind.
Green is active
With the size of the Green Movement, it is evident that the environment and action go together. But just how active is Green? In our study we found that more than 90% of consumers are at least somewhat concerned about the environment. These respondents also stated that they have become greener over the past year and that they plan on acting in even more environmentally responsible ways in the year to come. Efforts that consumers are making, among many, include recycling, turning out the lights when not needed, purchasing environmentally friendly products whenever possible, and encouraging others to go green.
Companies are continuing to prove that they are actively working to be more environmentally friendly as well. Greener products are taking over the market, with organic cotton, clothing made of recycled plastic bottles, all natural household cleaners, hybrid vehicles and energy efficient computers all beginning to become the norm. In addition to inventive products, companies are increasingly showing their Green by changing the way they operate: using renewable energy, growing green roofs, and reducing their CO 2 emissions.
Green is also loud
We found that 40% of consumers are likely to speak out against a company when they learn that it is not environmentally friendly. They will also be more than happy to reward companies that they learn are green by trusting them (57%) and recommending the companies and their products to others (58%). Companies are highly aware of these attitudes, and even in economic uncertainty are boosting green budgets. Many feel that spending on green activities and messaging will double during the next year.
And Green is transformative
We must also recognize that Green is transformative. We all have our own slightly distinct perceptions of what being green entails. Consumers as a whole are willing to change the light bulbs in their homes and recycle frequently, yet many of them see these actions differently. For some, these actions are considered important to leading an environmentally friendly lifestyle, whereas for others, these actions are simply a responsibility independent of going green. For the latter individuals, being environmentally friendly means making a stronger effort, one that includes buying environmentally responsible products whenever possible and encouraging others to do so.
It is important to remember that a company or individual is not simply “green” or “not green.” Going green is a process. Consumers are not demanding that companies be perfect and leave no carbon footprint, but they are requiring that businesses make an effort to work toward this end – even if it be one small step at a time.
Green evangelists are your best friends
An important piece to the Green Movement lies in those who are spreading it. One way that companies can really spend their green marketing dollars wisely is to ensure their messages are aimed at these Green Evangelists. These consumers are those who, after learning that a company is environmentally friendly, are very likely to recommend the company and/or its products to others (19% of all consumers). This powerful group tends to consist of younger respondents (18 to early 30s) who are female more often than male, and are generally more environmentally conscious than average. They frequently go through a careful evaluation process before making decisions and rarely make decisions based on emotion. These consumers are proud to go slightly out of their way to make environmentally responsible choices and look to nonprofit environmental organizations more than most individuals as a trusted source of green information. Reaching out to this group is crucial. By engaging the Green Evangelists, companies have automatically engaged these talkative consumers’ friends and families too.
A Green strategy is essential
So what does this all mean for you? It means you need a solid, customized, Green Strategy to reach your full potential and ensure you are pulling ahead of the competition. As an added bonus, you’ll be making the Earth a little happier. A successful Green Strategy can be summarized quite simply: education. Consumers want to be more environmentally friendly. And they are looking to companies to teach them how. As one respondent from the shopping logs commented, “I would like companies to make their environmental policies more explicit to consumers; informing them how using their product benefits not only their own health and well-being but the collective health of the planet.” It is our job, then, to let consumers know more about prominent environmental challenges; how they can easily participate in solutions; and the impact of their actions.
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Non-traditional, traditional and actionable market research including lifestyle and lifestage exploratories, concept testing, brand positioning, etc