Jacquie Ottman's
Green Marketing Blog

Is There a Green-Consumption Gap?

A new poll shows that 76% of consumers say they want to help others and 69% aim to provide a better life for their children, but only 26% say they actively seek out environmentally responsible products - a challenge for sure for green marketing. Paradoxically, more than 90% say that the environment influences their day-to-day purchasing decisions. What's going on?

If the environment is truly influencing as many as 90% of consumer purchasing decisions, chances are respondents are either overreporting to a surveytaker in the interest of looking worthy or, more likely, making a distinction between products that are overtly marketed as green (like Seventh Generation or Greenworks cleaning products) versus a more "silent" green products (such as the Method line). Consider the fact that the Energy Star label now appears on over 50 different kinds of products. Do consumers view Energy Star-labeled products as "green"? Likely not. However, they would admit that seeing the label influenced their decision.

If there is a genuine gap in intention and purchase behavior, there's lots that green marketers can do to close it— all we have to do is look toward the successful brands and learn from their strategies. Key among them is keeping in mind that most consumers (read: everyone but that greener-than-green 26%), don't buy green products for their environmental attributes alone, but for the value those attributes provide: the organic produce that tastes better, the fuel-efficient car that saves money on gas, and the flushable "G" diapers that are more convenient to travel with.

That's what I think is going on. What do you think? Write back and let me know!

Jacquelyn A. Ottman
President, J. Ottman Consulting/ Environmental Marketing and Eco-Innovation

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