Recession’s Impact On Eco-Friendly Marketing

MediaPost logo Maryanne Conline focuses on the shifting consumer base for green products. 

  • Two rising psychographic segments, the Naturalites and Conventionals are leading "the second wave of green consumption" as a result of the recession.

Posted June 3, 2009
By Maryanne Conlin, MediaPost

Marketing of green products has grown up as
more and more consumers search for and buy products touted as eco
friendly. This has, in turn led to more and more products adding green
language to their marketing messages.

It's easy, however, to fall into the trap of believing that positioning
a product as sustainable and green is some sort of silver bullet that
will drive product sales to unimaginable heights. That has never been
true and is less true as we experience the worst rec

ession in our
lifetimes.

While there is a sizable segment of the population (16%) that will
purchase products in the interest of saving the planet, (LOHAS defines
these as very progressive on environment and society, looking for ways
to do more [and] not too concerned about price) this is only one
segment of the green consumer market. It's one that has seemingly
expanded in the past few years as consumers across the spectrum felt
wealthier, but in tough times, this segment necessarily shrinks.

Marketers should, however, pay attention to two other psychographic
segments, Naturalites and Conventionals, that are leading the second
wave of green consumption.

The word "green" has, in common usage, come to cover not only that
which is good for the planet, but also that which is good for the body.
For example, the green movement has been instrumental in campaigning
for removal of toxic chemicals in the food supply, which benefits both
planet and people.

As our population ages and consumers (especially new mothers) become
more aware of the concerns with conventional farming methods, more are
driven to look beyond low-fat and heart-healthy products for those
grown naturally or organically. This means the Naturalites segment, or
those who buy green for health and wellness purposes, is booming. This
segment is less likely to give up their favorite organic product due to
budgetary concerns — placing health as a priority — and will skimp in
other areas.

A second key group of green consumers that, in the

past, cast into the
shadowy back waters of green marketing, is the Conventionals, those
practical consumers who shop on price. More and more of us are falling
into that category these days!

Conventionals are becoming aware, sometimes to their surprise, that the
green choice is often the cheapest. Appliance manufacturers and various
energy-related industries have been focusing on this segment for years,
but new opportunities have opened up for consumer package goods,
especially those seen as commodities. As consumers try their hand at
cooking from scratch, making their own cleaning supplies, crafting and
retro entertainment, a key repositioning opportunities open up.

So, as aspirational consumers desert high-profile stores like Whole
Foods, preferring saving money to being seen, a whole new group of
consumers is ripe to take their place.

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