Green consumers are people who shop with ethical and sustainable values in mind. And actually — *spins around in chair stroking cat* — I am one as well.
Undoubtedly, one of the most important things to recognize about green consumers is that price is still a dominating factor.
Green-minded people still want to save on green. You feel?
In-fact, an ING 2020 Report found that more than half (54 percent) of consumers that identified in some way as “green” still choose low-cost, unsustainable fashion items over more expensive and durable ones.
But still as markets change, trends change, and climate change changes the world as we know it, consumption habits will change too.
It is still to be seen exactly how the big, sick elephant in the room – the global pandemic – will affect the market. Still, using my own experiences and the experiences of others to draw on, we can paint a picture of how green consumers are responding and spending.
Their Demographics and Psychographics
This data is based generally on research of those who purchase with environmental values regularly in the U.S.
Importantly, income and educational level are not necessarily reliable variables for predicting environmental concern or buying behavior.
Data changes based on region and you should always test with your specific audience but generally:
Changed Behavior from the Pandemic
I interviewed people who identify as eco-conscious consumers about their buying habits and included my own experiences in the following trends I’ve identified:
Buying More Local and More Online
Personally I’ve bought more groceries and household items online due to the convenience of not having to worry about putting myself at risk in stores. In fact, I used to go grocery shopping once a week at farmer’s markets and my local grocery store, but that has reduced to every two weeks.
But, when I do decide or need to go out, I am particularly more conscious of those businesses who are community-based and environmentally-friendly than ever before.
Kate Riley, from New York also agrees that more people are buying online and local. But for her, it also means she’s not focusing on purchases like makeup and clothing as much – which lends to a more minimalist lifestyle.
“I do feel like I’ve had to become less environmentally conscious with the pandemic due to buying stuff online,” Riley said. “On the other hand, working from home has made me more environmentally conscious as I don’t have to commute as much, I don’t wear as much makeup as I used to, and I don’t wear as much clothing as I used to. I feel the pandemic has given me the opportunity to focus more on the ‘real’ me.”
Single-Use Containers and Household Items on the Rise
Unfortunately, single use items are more sanitary. Plus, with the rise of online shopping, comes the rise of wasteful packaging.
“I think the pandemic has been terrible for the waste and plastic craze,” said Angela Fortier from Vermont. “I also have used things like clorox wipes … but increased buying in bulk and started composting so hoping it might have an offset.”
That being said, since I’ve had to stay at home longer in the pandemic, I have noticed that I still use plastic Ziploc bags and am tired of buying them. So I looked into an alternative and bought reusable Ziploc bags – something I probably wouldn’t have done as soon as I did during the pandemic.
How to appeal to Green Consumers in 2020
Market the Convenience of your Brand
If the VERY embarrassing photo of my aunt picking cactus needles out of my 10-year-old butt was posted on the second page of search results, I wouldn’t be worried. That’s how important it is that your products show up on the first page.
Being in front of the customer when they search is only one aspect of convenience. Others include:
- Having a user/mobile friendly site
- Offer different shipping options (delivery is more important than ever when people are stuck at home)
- If your audience is global, have customer service in different time zones
- Do all the “homework” for them by adding comparisons to your competitors, listing your ingredients, etc.
- Consider offering bulk or curated packages
Get over the Cost Issue by adding other Value
If I told you I would sell you a bamboo toothbrush for $100, you would probably have to fight the urge to knock me on top of the head with said toothbrush. But, if I told you I would sell you a one-on-one afternoon tea party with Greta Thunberg featuring a bamboo toothbrush for $100, you would probably buy.
The point is, to get over the buyer objection of cost, you must add more value to your offer through services, exclusive content, additional bonuses, etc. Be creative!
Example: Old Youth plants 10 trees for every order, has free shipping for all, and ships within 24 hours adding value to their higher-marked sunglasses.
What’s healthy for the Earth is almost always healthier for the body. Coincidence? I think not.
With the pandemic, we don’t have to guess what’s on our buyers mind anymore – we already know that they’re constantly thinking about their health and the health of others.
Assure them that your product is a healthier AND eco-friendly alternative, and you’re one step ahead.
Important note: No psychopaths allowed – use your empathy. Be sensitive when marketing about COVID-19. You likely don’t even have to mention it – it’s implied. Simply communicate the TRUE health benefits of your product/service and assure them that you’re an authority on the topic.
Empower your Audience
Green brands in particular have a responsibility to not only educate transparently about their products, but communicate their accessibility. I have a degree in environmental science, have read scientific reports the size of Texas, and even I get overwhelmed by some company websites. Too much information + unclear product details – I’m out.
To accomplish these three points, answer these questions:
- Do you know without a doubt what problem your audience needs solving/does your product solve it?
- Do you represent diversity in your messaging/imagery?
- Are you speaking to your audience in their language?
- Do you take the time to show your customer what’s in your products AND how easy it is to use them?
Point two is especially important in the wake of the discrimination issues in America that came to light again this year. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. If you try to please everyone, you’ll please no one.
Example: Organicup’s guides, empowering messaging.
Spread Awareness of the Issues and Make Real Attempts to Educate your Impact
This point goes along with the previous, but here I am talking more about awareness of the larger impact of your business.
As an ecopreneur, you are a part of something much bigger, and your consumers buy your products/services to take on the identity that they’re part of the movement as well.
Your claim to being a “green” or “eco-friendly” business comes with a duty to not only stay educated on the issues related to your business, but to communicate those issues. This includes reporting the MEASURABLE impact of your business in your blogs, social media, and marketing material.
Example: Humankind measures how much waste you’ll reduce by using their products, as well as has a very clear ingredient list and an informative newsletter