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Published on September 9th, 2008 | by Maryanne Conlin

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Surprise, Surprise – Youth Not Leaders in The Green Movement

While twentysomethings may be the cheerleaders of the green movement, a new report from i-com reveals that the ranks of actual users of green products are grey haired and wrinkled.

Both male and female groups 55 years and over reported above average usage of environmentally friendly home goods. Leading the way was the 55-59 year-old female demographic, who was more than twice as likely as the average consumer to use green products. Males 65-69 years old were second, more than 1.7 times as likely to use than the average American.

I don’t find this terribly surprising for a number of reasons including what the survey found out: 50% of non-adopters cited high prices as the main factor behind their decision not to purchase green products. As is well know, the bulk of this country’s wealth is concentrated in the baby boomer generation. If you were lucky enough to be born in the first half of the boom (and now find yourself wondering why your kids have such trouble getting ahead in a vastly different economic landscape than the 60s and 70s) then you know what I mean.

For ecopreneurs and other manufacturers of green products this presents a challenge and an opportunity. There is of course no good reason not to target an older, wealthier demographic…especially when they make up such a large part of the US population.

But, if your product or service is meant to appeal mainly to a younger market, the survey authors have some advice:

“Younger demographics are still green, that is, inexperienced when it comes to engaging with environmentally friendly goods,” added Meyers. “The data suggests that targeting these groups with more calculated offers – such as at slightly more aggressive price points, appealing to their personal values or reinforcing the true benefits for the environment – could introduce green products to a new, promising consumer base.”

Well, yes, but I think we know that already…except maybe the part about price point. Many ecopreneurs find themselves reluctant to lower prices to meet the needs of the market. That’s a shame.

While a wholesale relaxing of quality standards is not advised, now might be the time to really take a look at your raw materials. In marketing terms we might say, “Which of these items is a ‘nice-to-have’ and which are ‘need-to-haves’?” The answer to that question and taking the steps to align product with consumer needs might enable you to reach a price point that will bring new, younger consumers into the fold.

Unwilling to relax your quality standards? There are other ways to attract a younger, less well heeled consumer.

- Bringing health concerns to the forefront or rather how your product addresses them

- Offer smaller sizes to meet a lower price point

- Expand the line to include lower price point items gaining a loyal consumer now and hopefully one that will trade up when the economy recovers and/or they get older/ richer.

- Reduce margins. The old saw, “we’ll make it up in volume” really does work…especially if you don’t have stockholders comparing year over year earnings.

- Run (hip) promotions to induce trial by younger consumers

- Tap into the growing social consciousness movement by making real contributions and marketing them well. This takes some strategic thinking and experience as socially aware marketing gimmicks abound. But, a thoughtful, well targeted campaign can be successful.

What have you found has worked for your company?

Photo Credit: andrijbulba  at Flickr Under Creative Commons License

Related Posts:

How To Use Offsets In your Marketing

Times They Are a Changing: Green Marketing Tips for Eco Entrepreneurs in 2008

How to Do Cause-Related Marketing Well

How to Do Cause-Related Marketing Well

The Lindberg Report: Boomers! Did You Really Mean It?



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About the Author

Hear Maryanne speak on Social Media for Socially Conscious Brands at Expo East on September 27th! Maryanne Conlin is CPG brand marketer and digital marketing expert, CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy, 4GreenPs. A Shorty Award winner for best Green Content on Twitter, she was a member of the IAA team that won the Green Award in 2010 and most recently was a finalist for the PRSA - Los Angeles PRISM awards for social media. She and her team focus on providing strategic marketing direction, custom content for web, mobile and social platforms, social media community management and online promotions and digital advertising solutions for companies in the green, food and Hispanic space. Follow her on Twitter @maryanneconlin



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  • Ben

    How are the surveys behind this conclusion conducted? Who’s the audience? How would the twenty-somethings be contacted to participate? How many of them are leading and teaching as they travel the world? And what of the sixth graders trying to influence their parents?

  • http://WashoeGreens.org Billy

    HAHA! We’re not so wrinkled cuz we’ve been living the healthy lifestyle that goes hand in hand with being green for the past 30 years.

  • http://notquitecrunchyparent.blogspot.com/ mcmilker

    Hi Ben,

    Great questions. I actually had asked a few of these questions myself.

    The data is from a total of 6,036 households that completed the survey online.

    100,000 households were invited to participate resulting in a 6+% response rate, which is pretty good.

    Online surveys skew younger, so I feel comfortable that the information is pretty accurate.

    Good point about sixth graders though, I just wrote about that in another posts on Eco Kids

    http://ecopreneurist.com/2008/09/07/targeting-green-kids-marketing-to-the-eco-generation/

  • Pingback: How Green Is Your Company? Consumers Want To Know! : Ecopreneurist

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