Don’t believe everything you read

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Don’t believe everything you read

Sustainable Life Media posted something interesting — and a bit misleading — from J. D. Power a couple of days ago.  The folks at J.D. Power tracked sustainability-related blog posts and discussion boards from January 2007 to December 2008 and concluded that the discussion is shifting from chatting/complaining to action.  The concerning thing about the report as published on the Sustainable Life Media site, though, is a quote from a J. D. Power representative:

“It is evident that consumer sentiment around the need to adopt environmentally sustainable habits is rapidly changing from skepticism to acceptance to activism,” says Janet Eden-Harris, vice president of J.D. Power and Associates Web Intelligence Division. “Brands that are cognizant of this important shift and manage messages about their products and services accordingly have the ability to capitalize on changes that many consumers are making in their everyday lives.”

Not so much, according to our Energy Pulse 2008 study and our soon-to-be-released Utility Pulse study.  In September and in January we asked a statistically significant sample of Americans how much they agreed with the following statement:  “Global warming, or climate change, is occurring and it is primarily caused by human activity.”  The results in both studies are statistically the same:  only 58-60% of the popuulation agrees.  Roughly 15% of the population says they don’t know and around 25% say they disagree-strongly disagree.

Despite what J. D. Power’s report says, we still see a significant amount of skepticism, and we think  brand managers who base their green marketing efforts on the assumption that all consumers “get it” that we’re messing up the planet and have a moral obligation to fix it are off track.  40% don’t agree with that logic.

So as you’re marketing a green product remember the two golden rules:

1) Make it real (consumers can smell BS, and they’re getting tired of false green claims as a way to get them to part with their money).

2) Tell them what’s it for them.

Though a segment of the population cares deeply about what’s going on with the planet and does feel a deep sense of personal repsonsibility to make a difference, the majority do not.  Brand managers and marketers can accomplish the same goal — getting folks to buy green products, adopt sustainable behaviors and, ultimately, create an inheritable world — by promising a personal benefit.  Like a sense of security, a feeling of control, peace of mind, getting to look smart/cool.  We’ve seen these emotional drivers come into play over and over, and tapping into them is what moves green and sustainable products — not a new-found sense of activism.

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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