Every creature on earth, from the tiniest single-celled organism to the complex species that is mankind, is ultimately looking out for one thing: itself. So it shouldn’t be any wonder why people still find it so hard to adopt a green lifestyle. A few weeks ago, over 1 billion people participated in Earth Day in one way or another. Sure, it’s nice to know that people are willing to turn off their lights for an afternoon once a year, but how many of Mother Earth’s children truly took any value away from that Sunday and brought it into Monday?
After careful observation, I have determined that the key to people going (and staying) green is not about the planet at all – it’s about what’s good for themselves. According to stats released by the Office of National Statistics, the amount of people willing to change their behavior to accommodate climate change has dropped from 77% in 2008 to 65% as of last summer. It’s hard to determine why a phenomenon like global warming scares people less today than it did three and a half years ago, but it does. Perhaps it’s time we get Al Gore up on his soapbox again to lecture us on how environmentally irresponsible we are. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of people who truly are trying to make a difference. But, maybe we should start thinking a little bit more about when the Average Joe’s of the world go green: the times when they don’t even realize it.
A recent innovation by Ticketmaster has been paperless ticketing. This trend has popped up for a lot of ticketing agencies. However, Ticketmaster manages to take it a step further. The site now allows users to show up to their event with nothing but their credit card. No one likes to fumble around for tickets when walking up to the front gates of a show or game, so Ticketmaster allows people to swipe their credit card (with a valid ID) at the entrance of an event. That’s it! So while the customer is happy that they don’t have to worry about unfolding those annoying print-out tickets, or losing smaller paper ones at the front of the line, less paper is being used overall. The consumer is participating in a green action while their only intention was to be in a seat before curtain up.
Organic food is generally considered better for the environment. It is grown sustainably and doesn’t cause as much pollution as regular farming. It also improves soil quality and maintains biodiversity. However, a recent Thomas Reuters poll found that 36% of people said they eat organically to support local farms while 34% cited avoiding toxins. Concern for the environment was all the way down at 17% (with taste at 13%).
Marketers for hybrid vehicles can push eco-friendliness until they are blue in the face, it won’t change the fact that most people buy hybrids to beat high fuel prices. According to a study by automotive marketing research company R.L. Polk, fewer than 35% of first time hybrid owners purchase a second hybrid. Additionally, second time purchases were made at a rate of 40% versus 31% when gas prices were higher versus lower. The data would indicate that the force driving hybrid purchases is the green of the dollar, not the planet.
So what does all this mean? It could be that marketing green might not be the way to go when companies want to, well, market green! While it may seem unconventional, if companies really want to put a greener product out there, a proper marketing plan should consist of telling the consumer what is in it for them – right now. The aforementioned number of 77 to 65 indicates that people are getting tired of making changes to their lives for something they are not directly seeing the result of. It’s only human nature that we be more concerned about our valuable time and money rather than floating cities and extinct species 100 years from now.