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Who are Today's Green Customers?

By Anne-Marie Watson
Published January 19, 2012

The word ‘greenie' has come a long way in the last 30 years or so. At the very early advent of environmentalism, it was used to describe a small number of consumers who were considered diehards, left-wing hippies, socialists or any other ‘hair-brained liberal who didn't understand the economics of maintaining development for the sake of jobs and our standard of living.

Thank goodness, things have moved on considerably since then. We are all starting to understand for the first time collectively what impact our species and our society has on the world we all share.

This is not just important for our social conscience but it is impacting significantly, how people buy. A study by Deloitte on US shoppers (2009) showed that green thinking is now so important that it permeates over half of all shopping decisions, and that green shoppers actually buy more and shop more often than typical shoppers.

So its not surprising then to find out that more than 77% of consumers consider themselves ‘greenies' and just over half (57%) have purchased something green in the last 6 months (Yahoo! Green study).

Early green adopters (~20% of the population) tend to be over 35 years old, female, educated, metro dwellers and more likely than others to respond to green advertising about something that is positive for the environment (Yahoo! Green study).
Despite this data, it would be a mistake to try and develop the idea of the ‘average green shopper' as the basis of a marketing strategy. This is because they are spread amongst all income ranges, age brackets, education levels and various household sizes (Deloitte study 2009). Green shoppers it seems, appear amongst all of the traditional shopper segments.
A more recent study found that mature consumers (+55 yrs old) are the most likely to recycle (89%) followed by Boomers (41-55 yrs) at 67% and Generation X (26-40 yrs) at 69%. Mature consumers are also more likely to be influenced by eco-packaging that has a positive impact on the environment and more likely to pay more for eco-friendly packaging.Surprisingly the youngest generation (17-26 yrs) are the least likely to recycle or spend more money on eco-friendly packaging.
This data reinforces the fact that green consumers are not all the same, so careful consideration needs to be given to:

• Who ‘eco-friendly ‘ packaging is aimed at, especially if products cost more versus non-environmental brands.

• How communications are developed in tone and wording as there are significant age and socio-demographic differences between some of the key groups.

• Understanding what the basic motivations are for their attitudes to the environment.

Green consumers are here to stay it seems and they need to be taken into account in any marketing strategy for services and products to ensure you don't miss any future opportunities.

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