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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Sales and Marketing > Marketing Management > Green Marketing Trends

Consumers Only Partially Embrace Green Products

Heresy for the marketplace...common sense and respect for our customers

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The following notes taken from a summary of a recent executive summit on business strategies point out something very obvious, but ignored by these business leaders. See if you see what I see...and I'll comment in depth at the end of the article... At the 2007 Consumer and Retail Summit hosted by Reuters, business leaders said that even though companies are greening products of all kinds, buyers are unwilling to pay a green premium.

Reducing packaging, developing sustainable alternatives to current products, and increasing energy efficiency are all ways companies have begun adapting to the green revolution. But changing customers habits won't be easy, leaders said.

  • "How do you convince consumers that small is beautiful in laundry?" Keith Harrison, Procter and Gamble's global product supply officer.
  • Industries are finding that despite the talk from consumers that green is a top priority, they haven't completely committed to the idea.
  • As to fashion, consumers want it to come from their familiar designers. As much as anything, sustainable products are going to be driven by what the designers are out there providing.
  • And price is still a bigger factor for consumers than energy efficiency
  • There is sensitivity, but they probably aren't ready to accept performance trade-offs...

Editorial response to these comments

The market knows. The public sees what their suppliers do. And just like children do what their parents do...not what they say.

When corporations talk out of both sides of their mouths, the public begins to catch on. When corporations talk about the millions and billions they are saving because they finally decided to curtail corporate waste -- the public hears the kaching.

When corporations announce unprecedented levels of profit...the public takes note.

When advertisers promote more, bigger and high prestige in their commercials...the public is influenced.

And when big business pays millions for a star's face on their packaging...the green-conscious public winces.

When companies then put products on the shelf that are higher priced...the public balks.

The green movement is more than a fad. It's about putting common sense back into our society. That means that manufacturers and advertisers also have to take a step back...and be more real, more honest, more conservative all the way through the process.

Everyone has to think about how NOT to spend more money. How to bring back a more real shopping experience, bartering and family time and friendship and integrity. Real values. Not just MORE.

Companies who bring out simpler packaging (or no packaging), who promote common sense even if it reduces the amount of product they sell will be the winners in a green world. One of these days Americans need to stop consuming four times their global allotment of resources. We can't have our cake and eat it too. And the public WON'T PAY MORE FOR HYPE. The public is telling us with their actions that they expect common sense to have a common sense heart, mind and message.

The real strategy companies need to be thinking about is how they are going to thrive (or survive) on less. (That's business heresy, I know.) How companies and communities can cope with more people and a declining availability of necessary resources such as fresh water, copper, wood, clean air, nutritious food, healthy lifestyles, and educated labor (because they can't afford education when they are paying a premium for all those greener products.)

Everything is connected to everything.

Promoting energy saving products with manipulative techniques such as bright lighting, perfect models and perfect smiles... is the OLD WAY of unsustainable marketing. Get real. That's the new way to make and market real world responses to the over-the-top extravaganza that we have been inundated with for the past decade or more.

There is a rich tradition in recent centuries of breakthrough success by companies who provide "cheaper and easier" solutions. Green offers that opportunity, but only if designers and manufacturers and marketers think green as a solution to the world's Problem (with a capital P) instead of green being another marketing opportunity that's the same old swarmy pathway to profit just for the sake of profit.

Authentic common sense what green is about. Real quality. Real values that respect one another.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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