Don't Let Them Know They're Going Green

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. 

5 comments about "Don't Let Them Know They're Going Green ".
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  1. Ken Hammock from WVFJ, The JOY FM, May 9, 2012 at 10:23 a.m.

    Great article and right on target about the mind of the consumer. However, have to disagree about the hybrid car comment. I sold these for several years, and the fact was, people who purchased hybrids cared more for the ecology than the gas savings. The extra cost of a hybrid overrides the gas savings and a person would have to own a hybrid upwards of 11 years to overcome the higher price of the car. It was easier for sales reps to switch customers to a non-hybrid with a competitive gas-mileage simply on the savings in the price of the car itself.

  2. C. Phillipps from Yoohooville, Inc., May 9, 2012 at 11:16 a.m.

    Interesting article. It mainly points out what we already know - consumers are motivated by their own concerns, rather than concerns for the environment, when they buy a "green" product.

    I think its because "green" has something that's become less than trustworthy over the years, whereas the firms that see how consumers really work have just been chugging along without having to point out just how "green" they are to consumers all the time and/or beat us over the head with their "green marketing".

    The firms that have a sustainable, environmentally friendly platform and use it to create direct benefits to the consumer are the ones that will always get my business in the end.

  3. Kevin Horne from Verizon, May 9, 2012 at 6:18 p.m.

    green is done.

  4. kc truby from 8020 Accounting, May 11, 2012 at 7:43 p.m.

    We are 100% paperless in our small company with 65 employees. (Who work from home all over the world) We use a service called Paperless Overnight for a flat rate of $97 a week and they do all the work in the back ground 24/7

    Our mailman even stopped coming to the office as we redirected all mail to a secretarial service that scans it into our system.

    The virtual work flow allows us to see exactly what is going on from one screen across our entire company. I love it. I think their web site is

  5. Martinez Hill from ABC, May 20, 2012 at 11:32 p.m.

    Although the point about getting a seat by swiping your credit card is great, it may not be a practical idea for offices! But there is a solution, in case small businesses and home offices want to go paperless. They can scan their paper based documents into a document management software database using a scanner. A solution like Sohodox can help offices scan, index, organize, store, search and edit documents from a centralized repository. Once documents are digitized, their paper versions can be safely shredded, barring, of course, those that you need to retain in paper form for legal or operational reasons. All incoming mail should be scanned too. And of course, all new documents should only be created in electronic formats to reduce paper to a minimum.

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