Study: Gen Y Shoppers Drawn To Greener Marketers

Marketing_daily_jpegOriginally Posted Sept. 21, 2007
by Sarah Mahoney at MarketingDaily

It’s not news that retailers are
knocking themselves out to appear as green as possible to shoppers:
Wal-Mart just announced, for example, that it is introducing
private-label CFL bulbs, intensifying its promise to reduce greenhouse
emissions. And Tesco, still closely guarding the details about its
soon-to-open Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets, recently let it
slip that all its stores would be built with Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

But a recent poll from Maritz Research indicates that retailers will
have to keep that environmental buzz going if they hope to woo
Generation Y shoppers. Poll findings indicate that environmental
messaging has a major impact on customer loyalty in this key
demographic, with 50% of respondents saying it influences their
shopping behavior. About 46% of respondents say they’d shop at a
retailer more if it were environmentally friendly. And 47% say they’re
willing to pay more for environmentally friendly services, products or

The Maritz survey, which polled shoppers ages 18 to 30, focused on
clothing brands and included those who had shopped at Abercrombie &
Fitch, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Express or The Gap
within the last 30 days. But the results "lend credibility to
environmental messaging, which is only likely to gain more momentum
with consumers in the future," the company says.

Of course, how that messaging is handled varies. Some companies are
doing more to let customers know they’re improving store operations.
Wal-Mart and Tesco are already pioneering solar-power initiatives in
California, for example, and last week, Safeway unveiled a large
initiative to power 23 California stores with solar. And while everyone
expects retailers like Whole Foods Markets and Starbucks to be on the
Environmental Protection Agency’s Top 25 list in its Green Power
Partnership, less predictable retailers–including Kohl’s and
Staples–are on that list, too.

Increasingly, however, retailers are looking for ways to brand these
environmentally friendly options as their own. The Home Depot, for
example, recently upgraded its Eco Options microsite, to make it easier
for consumers to zero in on product options that fill a variety of
environmental requirements. Walgreens, which last year introduced $10
refills for most printer cartridges, recently offered a one-day special
with free refills. "People feel good about keeping printer cartridges
out of landfills," the company says.

Wal-Mart’s new private label bulbs are the latest example. The company
made big news last year when it vowed to sell 100 million CFLs by the
end of 2007–a goal it says will save its customers "$3 billion in
electrical costs over the life of the bulbs and prevent 20 million
metric tons of greenhouse gases from entering our atmosphere." (About
20% of home electric costs stem from lighting, it says.)

Sarah Mahoney can be reached at [email protected]

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