Now more than ever, consumers are investing in brands that are eco-friendly, transparent, and aligned with their environmentally conscious values. To keep up, brands need to think outside the box to appease this growing segment of conscious consumers. Enter Green MR: a research team’s first foot into the eco-friendly consumer mind.
What is Green MR?
Green Market Research, or Green MR, connects environmentally conscious consumers with like-minded brands. It helps retailers tailor their merchandise for an optimized public acceptance of green products, and assists organizations interested in marketing to the environmentally conscious consumer. Like traditional market research, Green MR aims to connect consumers to the brands they love most.
To understand Green MR, researchers need to identify their target market – the Green Market. This includes consumers actively choosing sustainable alternatives, advocating for Green brands, or otherwise interested in environmentally friendly products. With the recent global advocation of sustainable alternatives, the breadth of the Green Market is only expanding.
Green Markets are based on the principal of sustainable resource management. Sustainable resource management is a manufacturing method which uses a resource in such a way that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged. There is now sufficient scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, using more resources than we have available on this planet. Because of this, sustainable resource management will become increasingly necessary to meet the needs of the present generation, without compromising the livelihood of future generations.
Sustainable resource management can only be achieved through the adoption of Green products and services, or Green Goods. As expected, Green Goods are products or services that are environmentally friendly or have less impact on the environment compared to a regular product. Green MR can be used to provide direction, and aid in conceptualizing alternative solutions to reduce a product’s environmental impact.
Why Go Green?
The elusive Green Market can be a difficult audience to cater to. Primed with high expectations from trendy Green products, it can feel inconsequential to pursue efforts towards satisfying consumers in this market. Why should an organization care to go Green?
8 of every 10 surveyed consumers say they value sustainability in the brands they trust. Over 70% of these respondents say they would pay an average of 35% more for environmentally conscious products or services. Overall, consumers are interested in brands that share their values, and are willing to vote for these alternatives with their wallets. By engaging in Green-focused market research and utilizing tools like market research online communities, eco-friendly brands have never had more accessibility to their interested audiences.
Environmentally conscious consumers often have difficulties finding the green products that align with their values. The product might be too expensive, not available, or not offered by a preferred product line. However, research shows that even in a down economy, consumer demand for greener products continues to increase – indicating a general market shift toward the embrace of greener products.
Encourage Adoption of Green Practices
Consumers often have negative associations with sustainable product options, viewing them as lower quality, visually unattractive, more expensive, or otherwise unappealing. Sometimes social norms may contribute to turning off certain consumer segments. For example, because men often associate sustainability with femininity, and people who lean right on the political spectrum associate it with a liberal political ideology, these demographics are less likely to engage in eco-friendly behaviors.
One solution that marketing managers can use to appeal to these groups is to focus on values that everyone shares, such as family, community, prosperity, and security. Additionally, companies can use product design features to encourage sustainable habits. The simplest and most effective approach is to make sustainable behavior the default option. Researchers in Germany discovered that when green electricity was set as the default option in residential buildings, 94% of individuals stuck with it. In full-service restaurants in California, drinks no longer come with plastic straws; customers must explicitly request one. Another strategy is to make the eco-friendly action easier—by, for example, placing recycling bins nearby, requiring minimal sorting of recyclables, or providing free travel cards for public transport.
Going Green at Work
As an organizational representative, it’s not always easy to get started on green initiatives. An organization might want to take steps to reduce the ecological footprint, reduce energy use, promote alternative energy sources, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Or maybe they need to cut operating costs, enhance employee health and productivity, improve business reputation or competitiveness in these economic hard times. Green Market Research will help these organizations in their quest to improve their green business practices, as well as their product or service designs.
At the Fuel Cycle office, we have taken the initiative to go green in a few key areas:
- Changed our paper towels and napkins to recycled paper and added reusable towels to our kitchen areas to minimize our carbon footprint
- Implanted “Go Green” signage in office areas with recommended waste reduction options
- Placed signs near sinks to remind people to use less paper towels
- Put signs by the printer to remind people to recycle scrap paper
- Hung visual guides near trash cans to ensure correct trash and recyclable sorting
- Purchased more recycle bins for various locations around the office
- All office lights run on motion sensors to save electricity
- Changed our coffee pods to a new brand, Tasty, which uses biodegradable pods
If you’re interested in conducting Green MR to increase the sustainability of your business, be sure to check out our agile market research toolkit, Ignition. For more information on the benefits that online communities can provide outside of Green MR, check out our Insider’s Guide to Online Community Engagement.