Making the case for the Practical Environmentalist

Making the case for the Practical Environmentalist

I’m afraid I’ve beat this one to death, but just in case:  there is no one “green market” or one “green consumer.”  In every one of our studies we create segmentation models to group people according to how they answer our questions, and what we find, repeatedly, is that there are multiple audience segments who are good targets for green and energy efficient products; they’re just motivated by entirely different drivers.  And that means they’ll respond to different messages.  Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all message to market green products; it’s all about identifying the target and talking to him/her in the way he/she’s most likely to listen.

In our segmentation modeling, we’ve identified a group called True Believers on the energy efficiency side of the equation and a group called Activists on the green side.  Now, maybe it’s a function of what we’ve named them…but we notice a few of our clients being uncomfortable embracing these folks as viable  target audiences.  There’s something about hanging an expensive, important marketing strategy on audiences who sound like treehuggers that makes mainstream, more conservative brands squirm.

And, yes, some of the folks within those segments are extremists.  But many of them are not.  Many are what we’re now calling Practical Environmentalists.  These are the people who:

– Care about being responsible to the environment AND to their wallet

– Want CPG products that do what they’re supposed to (clean bacteria, reduce wrinkles, lower cholesterol) AND do it without pesticides, chemicals or animal testing

– Want to be comfortable in their homes, have a beautiful space AND do as little harm to the environment as possible

They’re not treehuggers:  they’re well educated, somewhat personally aware people with higher than average incomes who buy a lot of stuff and feel conflicted about how to be sure they’re making the best choices all the way around.  It’s difficult for them to prioritize comfort, convenience, aesthetics, costs and the environment — they want to have all those things in balance in the products and services they purchase.  Those of us on the manufacturing and marketing end of the equation know that’s a tall order.  But it’s the bar, nonetheless.

So, don’t be afraid of this consumer.  Being for the environment doesn’t mean being against capitalism.  With the majority of the folks in our True Believer and Activists segment, they’re looking to buy from brands that have figured out how to keep it all in balance.  And that makes them an excellent target.

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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