The consumer adoption of new media is seeing similar dramatic change. The 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study documents that new media are now being used by over half of Americans. And among those Americans using new media, almost 80% interact with a brand and/or company. Ninety-five percent of new media users believe a company should have a presence there.
This convergence of consumer trends in adoption of sustainability and new media is defining a new customer class, the Awareness Customer. This is an important distinction from classification of consumers into shades of "green."
For example, the Awareness Customer is defined by the three distinct leadership groups:
Among Awareness Customers, the Concerned Caregivers and the Millennial Generation are moving through a self-directed path that uses social media in a starfish problem-solving process of learning, experimentation and then procurement. The phrase I found in a Web 2.0 conversation that captures the essence of this process is "Know it, Embrace it."
The manifestations of "Know it, Embrace it" are complex, evolving and growing. For example, a CEO of a green retail website shared with me an estimate that there are 20 million "Mommy Bloggers" posting their feelings, actions and observations across the fullest range of wellness issues. "Is this a marketing opportunity or just spontaneous writing therapy," was a key question this CEO raised, where the answer is still emerging.
My anecdotal example is a woman I surveyed walking out of a Target store after buying her first bottle of Green Works. She bought it because of a social pressure to "do something." Her purchase was an impulse buy, driven by the labeling. She was conflicted on whether she had made the right purchase and volunteered she was going to use the Internet to learn more. She listed "diet" and "organic" as other issues of concern regarding what she and her family should be eating. She left the parking lot driving a full-size Jaguar toward her home located in an upscale community of large homes.
So how do you market to the Awareness Customer? The successful strategies I see emerging combine competitive pricing, a "Prove It, Conclusively" branding strategy and "Know it, Embrace it" marketing to create The Secret Green Sauce for growing revenues and brand equity. And for the first time since I began tracking this space, I can now point to actual businesses across market segments who are harvesting green revenue growth, enhanced brand equity and profits.