Commentary

Chartreuse Is The Real Green For Gen Y

Recently, I met with an organic food company that described its target audience as "hard core light green." After chuckling a bit at the term, I started to digest its meaning. This sparked my thinking that this is really the best descriptor I have heard when it comes to Gen Y's environmental beliefs and consumer habits.

There is a great amount of research associated with Gen Y's commitment to the environment and its desire to better the planet and itself through both behavior and consumption. The truth is, though, as much as the passion is there, sometimes the action is not. What does this mean for marketers and how should you react? Tread lightly and stay true to who you are.

As Gen Y grew into the consumer powerhouse we see today, green-living became more mainstream and basic environmentally friendly behavior seemed to become commonplace. We have seen many brands lean into this shift by evolving their products and messages -- but how much should brands change themselves to meet this behavioral shift? While I support being more environmentally friendly, brands should only evolve as much as it makes sense to its brand values and the bottom line.

Studies show that Millennials are concerned about water conservation, energy and global warming but their current buying habits are limited to cars, furniture, baby products, and food and beverages. Their buying habits are actually driven by three factors: cost, proof that they are making a difference and ease of use.

While Gen Y wants to be green, even the smallest barriers can prevent them from action. Brands need to be aware of consumer barriers they are creating and weigh both the pros and cons before fully adjusting their products and messages.

It all comes down to values -- both Gen Y's and your brands'. We know that Gen Y values environmentally friendly living but research has shown us that is not quite always the practice. Many factors determine their decision making and eco-friendliness falls off the cliff pretty quickly when it is compared to convenience, comfort and price.

If sustainable living and the environment are not part of your brand's core values, don't jump so quickly to change just because you think it's what the consumer wants. The consumer may not want the change and the reaction may not be at all what you had hoped.

Instead, if eco has not been part of your brand's core values, take baby steps in making the change and become "light green" yourselves. Give the consumer the choice to adapt to your new product, messaging or packaging.

Remember, as in all cases, actions speak louder than words and although Gen Y members want to be green, they are really just chartreuse.

1 comment about "Chartreuse Is The Real Green For Gen Y ".
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  1. Katy Planamenta from Superfly Digital, August 27, 2010 at 12:15 p.m.

    Kristine - I love this article. You hit the nail right on the head when you caution brands to look inside at their core brand values to see if "sustainable living and the environment" are in their hearts. It's so important for brands to evolve with their customers but the evolution must stay true to the brand beliefs otherwise they will end up disappointing their core users in the long run.

    Great article!

    Katy

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