7 Reasons Why Greening Up is Hard to Do

GreenBiz logo2 EarthPeople, LLC President, Anna Clark, emphasizes the need to reach non LOHAS audiences with green products/marketing in order to make a real difference. She reviews several barriers to people's support of environmental values including the empowerment of women globally, the partisan divide, media coverage of the issues, and more. Clark recommends several solutions to break down the barriers including encouraging companies to engage multiple vertical/horizontal markets with their brand platform.

Posted Apr. 8, 2010
By Anna Clark, GreenBiz

Green business owners beware: don't buy into your own press. Although we
are wont to focus on the oft-cited LOHAS stat "1 in 4 adult Americans
cares about health and sustainability," the real ratio is less
favorable, especially in cases where the green label costs more. And
that still leaves an uninterested majority. How much more progress could
we make if we learned to engage the other 75 percent in the green

I've been trying to uncover the reasons why the majority doesn't value
sustainability since 2005, and through my search I've made some
surprising discoveries about the obstacles that we're facing.

The systemic barriers to positive change are entrenched and insidious,
stretching far beyond the usual culprits of big industry and
hyper-consumerism. Although my study was more anecdotal than
quantitative, it reflects an investigation of those attitudes that don't
appear in surveys.

Among the cumulative challenges these obstacles pose is the ability to
easily, frustratingly, reduce sophisticated CSR programs to lip service.
And many of the genuine issues preventing sustainability from taking
root are exacerbated by the proliferation of green marketing strategies
— a sad irony. It calls to mind Einstein's warning, "We can't solve
problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created

Despite the discouraging nature of these findings, they do present
opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs and conscious companies who can
help consumers translate environmental awareness into action. Here are
some observations that represent the most inconvenient — and still
largely unspoken — truths standing in the way of a sustainable America.

1. The socio-economic rise of women speeds consumption. Over the
next five years, the global incomes of women are estimated to grow from
$13 trillion to $18 trillion. That incremental $5 trillion is nearly
twice the growth in GDP expected from China and India combined, making
women the biggest emerging market ever seen. This means a huge
opportunity for consumer products companies.

As one marketing strategist points out, "We are continuously doing
research on 'why she buys' to give us insight into the impact that
female consumers have on the marketplace." He goes on to suggest that
delayed marriage, lower birthrates, divorce and higher incomes make
women prime targets for goods in the convenience, luxury and technology
categories. This spells serious un-sustainability.

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