'Tis The Season To Be Merry And Green

by , Dec 18, 2013, 10:00 AM
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Nothing says the holidays like waking up to dozens of emails from retailers offering sales, discounts and other shopping appeals. As a consumer, it’s easy to feel extremely overwhelmed at the array of shopping options. You may also feel powerless to the onslaught of pressure to buy, consume and spend. 

But rather than feel overwhelmed or powerless, people should feel empowered. In the green economy, consumers have an opportunity to use their wallets as a way to make a (very loud) statement about the types of products they want to buy. 

As reported by Environmental Leader, according to a report by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center on Climate Change Communication, “half of all Americans consider the environmental impact of products and services when deciding whether or not to make a purchase.”

And senior executives at the highest level are paying close attention to the shopping habits of consumers, so much so that it’s influencing their business strategies. As the UN Global Compact and Accenture CEO sustainability study found, 64% of CEOs believe that consumers are a key stakeholder in influencing their company’s approach to sustainability. 

The study of more than 1,000 CEOs also found that almost half (46%) of these corporate leaders believe that sustainability issues will always be a second priority to consumers, with factors such as price and quantity being priorities. 

What can marketers do to tap into the purchasing power of consumers? Forget the videos and infographics – according to a forthcoming study to be published in Ecological Economics, it might be worth considering some old-school marketing tactics, like labels. As reported by Conservation Magazine, the study found that when it comes to buying lightbulbs, consumers were more likely to buy the more energy-efficient lightbulb when the product was labelled with the corresponding annual cost of electricity. This is likely an effective way to help people see the sustainability long-game, rather than thinking short-term. 

Of course, another option is to forgo appealing to consumers to buy your green products during the holidays. Rather, taking a page from Patagonia and REI, you can encourage them to embrace conscientious consumption by, well, consuming as little as possible, including even their products. 

As Triple Pundit reported, REI was one of the first companies to participate in the How2Recycle label program which is a label designed to provide people with a wealth of information on how the product was packaged, as well as instructions for proper recycling. 

In short, this holiday season, consumers shouldn’t be overwhelmed – they should be empowered to vote with their wallets to tell companies what types of products they want to buy. Our job, as marketers, will be to make that at easy as possible, encouraging transparency, openness and honesty. 

Have a great holiday season and tell me in the comments or at @Brigid_Milligan what your shopping habits will be this season.

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