Fifty Shades of Green: Segmenting the Green Consumer

013114_OldGuard_OrigMarketers often lump green consumers into a single catch-all category: consumers either care about environmental and social impact, or they don’t. But new research featured in CSR Wire reveals a new segmentation scheme that can help companies better distinguish between different types of consumers within the green bloc. The 2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study divides green consumers into four distinct profiles, each of which are motivated by slightly different ideals and resonate with different types of messaging.

Old Guard consumers are often male and over age 55, and don’t believe they play much of a role in solving social or environmental issues. These consumers buy green products largely by chance. Companies can reach this group by keeping CSR messages simple and traditional.

Happy-Go-Lucky consumers are typically on the younger side (between 18 and 34) and are motivated by the desire to feel good about buying responsibly. Companies can reach this group by emphasizing the dual benefits of responsible purchasing for both consumers and society.

Bleeding Hearts are also usually on the younger side, but are typically female. These consumers go out of their way to buy responsibly so they can fulfill their goal of positively impacting society. Companies need to go beyond merely communicating CSR stats in order to effectively reach and keep these consumers.

Ringleaders are usually middle-aged men and women (typically 35 and older) who go out of their way to not only buy responsibly themselves, but encourage others to do the same. Companies can reach this group by offering transparent and consistent CSR information, and providing opportunities for these individuals to advocate on companies’ behalf.


Beyond Demographics: The New Responsible Consumer Profile

By Whitney Dailey, CSR Wire Guest Contributor & Senior Research Associate at Cone Communications

Too often as marketers we try to tailor our strategies based on demographics. Yet, when it comes to engaging consumers around CSR, the approach is not as straightforward. Individuals of all different ages and backgrounds have varying levels of support for companies’ CSR efforts – but we see them come together around a shared belief regarding their personal roles in addressing social and environmental issues through their purchases. To better understand consumer motives and behaviors, we segmented our 2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study with the primary filter of personal responsibility. The data revealed four distinct profiles, each demanding different approaches to marketing communications and engagement. Below we explore each profile and its unique drivers, including how consumers believe companies should address CSR issues, what role they feel they play in making purchases and how they want to receive information.

The Old Guard
Likely to be male and over the age of 55, Old Guards do not think their personal purchases play a role in CSR. Their decision-making hinges on traditional values of price, quality and convenience. If they do purchase responsible products, 32 percent say it’s merely by chance. In fact, only one-third (36%) believes their purchases can actually have an impact on social or environmental issues – and more than half (53%) feel companies have minimal or no impact at all.

Supporting Data:

  • 41% have bought a CSR product in the past 12 months and 31% say they are very likely to switch brands to one that is associated with a cause
  • Top motives if buying CSR-associated products include: improving their own lives (25%) or being consistent with their values (23%)

Counsel for Companies: Keep It Simple!

  • The Old Guards want to know what companies are doing, but they are not likely to deeply engage. To resonate with this group, companies should keep their CSR messages and activations simple, personal and traditional.

Read more here.

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