Being green in a lean economy

The green movement is still alive and well, but the green consumer is evolving in terms of attitudes and purchase behavior. Your marketing approach should be evolving right along with them. Is it?

Here are seven things to keep in mind as you develop and execute green and sustainable communications strategies.

  • They're watching.
    Studies show that around 70% of consumers claim to be paying attention to what companies are doing to be a better corporate citizen, and that 75% believe that some portion of companies are green-washing their efforts. The key take-away here is to be transparent and walk your talk.
  • The days of "green at any price" are gone.
    Consumers are looking for econo-green alternatives that provide environmentally-friendly benefits at a nominal cost. Over half of consumers say that they would buy green or buy organic more often if it was less expensive.
  • Build value into your brand.
    You can only charge more for comparable green alternatives if the consumer thinks they are worth it. A recent study showed that while 70% of consumers are motivated to buy green, only 40% are willing to pay more for it. Value is a balance between price, quality and benefits.
  • Organic confusion.
    Most consumers don't know what organic really means. They consistently confuse it with natural, locally grown and non-GMO. They feel overwhelmed by the proliferation of symbols and certifications being thrown around the marketplace. Help them steer through the clutter.
  • What consumers say is not necessarily what they do.
    It's about closing the gap between values and behavior. A recent study showed that while 95% of shoppers are open to buying green, only 67% actually seek out green alternatives, 47% find a green product, and 22% actually purchase. You can reduce that gap through education and promotion.
  • Just being green isn't enough.
    You must be better. There was a time when green alternatives sold regardless of whether or not they performed in a comparable manner to the products they were replacing. Not any more. Green must not only be greener, it must deliver on profit, performance and meet or exceed customer expectations.
  • Being green is more about psychographics than demographics.
    Green consumers cut across all age brackets, races, genders and income levels. When marketing to this group, focus on their core values and beliefs. Look for them where they congregate.

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Jeff Hilton is partner and co-founder of Integrated Marketing Group, a marketing and branding agency servicing a national and international clientele. Jeff has been recognized by Advertising Age as one of America's Top 100 Marketers and was recently awarded the Personal Service Award from Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) . Read more about Jeff.

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