Concentrate On The Personal Benefit

Marketing green logo2 This MediaPost article highlights one of ecoAmerica's general rules – successful green marketing and public engagement campaigns need to focus on the personal benefits of the product/service in question. David Almy cites the Eco Pulse Survey and identifies that out of the many markets that people are looking buy greener products, they are all related to personal benefits (personal care products, home cleaners, etc.).

Posted Mar. 3, 2010
By David Almy, Marketing:Green

I won't call what I had last week a
"lightbulb" moment. It wasn't like a sudden thought popped into my head
and instantly everything was made clear.

Instead, I'll call it a
"Homer" moment: one of those times when a few things that have been in
front of you for a while fall into place and make you slap your
forehead and say "Doh!" Moments like these are usually followed by a
short period of feeling chagrined that you didn't see it earlier …

Regardless, here's what happened.

Recently I've had an opportunity to do some research for a CPG client,
and as a result I've been reviewing different data sources related to
green product launches and the relative success of these efforts. One
such study is the Shelton Group's Eco Pulse 2009 Report. In it, the
authors ask the following question: "In which product categories are
you searching for greener products?"

To me, what makes this
question more interesting than most is that it doesn't ask what
respondents are currently buying. Rather, it seeks to establish where
their future intent to buy is. To me, that speaks of unformed brand
preferences, and that's a potential gold mine for CPG brand managers.

Here are the answers they received (percentage of respondents selecting
a particular category in which they are searching for greener

  • Home cleaning products: 75%
  • Food and beverages: 65%
  • Personal care products (shampoo, lotion, etc.) 55%
  • Appliances: 47%
  • Home improvement products (windows, insulation, etc.): 46%
  • Automobiles: 32%

So that got me thinking: why these categories? What makes these
separate and distinct from every other product segment that's out there
screaming from the rooftops about its green credentials?

And that's when I got Homer-ed.

Time and time again, we've heard from participants in green-oriented
focus groups that while environmentally friendly attributes in a
product are important, the real interest lies in what personal
benefits the products deliver. In other words: what's in it for them?
Research supports these anecdotal findings. From Earthsense's
Eco-Insights: "When asked why it's important to reduce energy
consumption, 73 % of respondents chose 'to reduce my bills'; 26 % chose
'to lessen my impact on the environment.'"

That's where these
product categories have succeeded. Each can make an overt connection
between a green product and a clear personal benefit it can provide.
Consider the categories again, but under these headers:

Products That Are Good For Me: home
cleaning, food and beverages, and personal care. People are
increasingly concerned with the safety of the products they use in
their homes and put in and on their bodies. By actively promoting a
product's greener attributes (e.g. fewer, more recognizable and natural
ingredients) marketers have been able to successfully position their
wares as improving a personal environment while also benefiting the global environment. Success comes from emphasizing the former rather than the latter.

Products That Are Good For My Budget: appliances,
home improvement, automobiles. Selling a big-ticket item like a
dishwasher or car in a tough economy is hard enough; focusing
exclusively on environmental benefits makes it even harder. Saving the
planet takes a back seat to personal finances, unless a connection is
clearly made between the product and potential future savings. No
surprise then that each of these categories can show consumers the long
terms savings potential (through reduced energy and/or fuel bills) that
their products can deliver.

In 2009, there were
about 1,500 new product launches that featured claims such as
"sustainable," "environmentally friendly" and "eco-friendly." With all
that noise and inevitable confusion, marketers will find success for
their green products by concentrating on the personal, rather than
global, impact.

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