Monday, May 6, 2013

Saving the World One Green Segment at a Time

Environmental messaging has always been steeped in the abstract and the ideal. It can be hard for consumers to relate to melting polar ice caps and deforestation when their day to day does not involve ice caps or rain forests. As a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program who majored in Environmental Studies in undergrad, I've been keeping an eye out for ways to make environmental messaging more effective.

What can you do to get customers to switch to your lightbulb?

Carolyn Parrs of Living Green Magazine advises green marketers to hone in from the ideal to the personal. Consumers will be a lot keener on listening to green messaging that hits close to home, whether it’s money, family, or health. Moreover, consumers have varying degrees of environmental commitment. The breakdown, according to Parrs, is this:
  • Deep Greens make up 19% of US population and are the most gung-ho about greening
  • Medium Greens make up 33% of the US population and will forgo green products for practicality and price
  • Light Greens make up 16% of the US population and will only buy green products if it costs the same or less
It’s important to correctly identify your audience before crafting your message. Making a decision is also deciding who to exclude. Unfortunately, casting too wide of a net will attract little to no one.

A timely example of a company realizing their actual target market a little belatedly is Clorox owned Green Works. Green Works recently announced a repositioning of their brand; gone are the Sierra Club stamps of approval on their packaging, in are reality show inspired commercials of the Real Housewives persuasion. Despite initial success, Green Works took a hit after the recession occurred, and that’s when they realized their audience was not composed of the Deep Greens they were hoping for, but rather the Medium Greens who stopped purchasing their premium products for the sake of saving money. In effort to target their new audience, Green Works has created a marketing campaign making fun of their former Deep Green targets. I think it’s great that Green Works has better identified the segment that is most likely to buy their products, but I wonder if alienating any part of the green consumer base is a smart move.

From my analysis of the two articles, here are some things to keep in mind when marketing your eco-friendly product:
  1. Identify: are they Deep, Medium, or Light Greens? 
  2. Don't Alienate: you may face backlash from the alienated segment. 
  3. Dig Deeper: what are some other motivators of your segment?

These are just some beginning steps to hone your environmental messaging. By bringing environmental messaging closer to home, we can help consumers make choices that can help the ice caps and rain forests stay just where they need to be.

Jenny AJ Tseng is a M.S. Candidate in Integrated Marketing Communications at Medill, Northwestern University. She enjoys taking pictures of advertisements with witty copy and smart environmental messaging. Share your thoughts with her on Twitter @JennyAJTseng.

No comments:

Post a Comment