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Green consumers come in many shades

Green consumers were once a stereotype, but now, most consumers have some form of sustainable requirements integrated into their purchase habits which is good to know for businesses with products and services that are looking to market green living.

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Green consumer profiles

The green consumer is not one simple stereotype that we can paint with a wide brush. When we speak about the green consumer, we are actually talking about a wide variety of different profiles that fit this more generic term. Just as green comes in many shades, from bright lime green to the deepest forest shades, the green consumer also comes in shades, from light green (eco-chic) to dark green (the idealist).

The following addresses the consumer profiles of three shades of green consumers: eco-chic, economizer, and idealist.

Profile one: the Eco-Chic

The eco-chic consumer doesn’t particularly care about the environmental impact of going green, but this consumer does care about their image and the coolness factor of being green. This buyer wants others to know they are trendy and hip, and if green is “cool” then that’s what they’ll broadcast. This consumer is heavily into social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterist, etc.) and they let their friends and followers know they are green.

Demographically, these consumers skew to the younger end of the spectrum, and they consider themselves trendsetters and early adopters of technology and trends. They drive a Prius not because it saves them money or is the right thing to do, but because others will see them driving a Prius and think they are environmentally responsible. It’s creating a persona by what you drive (a hybrid) and what you wear (organic cotton clothes).

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On trendhunter.com you can find “20 Eco-Chic Fashions”, from vegan sandals to recycled clothing. The site lists a slide show which features eco-friendly jewelry and chemical-free cosmetics. Gone are the boring Birkenstock sandals that used to be the flagship of the Mother Earth movement. They’ve been replaced with Italian designer biodegradable high heels made from recycled leather, colored by vegetable dyes and shipped in eco-friendly packaging.

If you are marketing to the eco-chic consumer, you should promote your product’s coolness factor. Highlight the trendiness of the product and the prestige that comes with purchasing this product.

Profile two: the Economizer

The economizer wants to go green so she can save money. This consumer compares various products and prices to make the most of his money. Like the eco-chic consumer, this person’s greenness is less about the environment and doing the right thing. It’s all about saving money.

The economizer will spend more money on the front end to insure cost savings later. This is the person who sees value in upgrading his heating system to a more energy efficient model now, even though it costs more right now, because he knows lower fuel costs later will save him money over time.

In marketing to economizers, you want to give the buyer statistics and lots of data. Show them they can save money with your product and that the cost savings make the initial purchase the smart thing to do. Give the consumer bullet points that emphasize cost savings such as “Cut your energy bill by 25%” to intrigue this buyer and draw them to your product.

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Profile two: the Idealist

The idealist goes green simply because it is the right thing to do – for the environment, for future generations, and for the planet as a whole. These are the most serious, darkest green on our green spectrum. They fully believe in the green movement and all of their actions speak for their firm commitment to being socially responsible consumers.

Idealists will pay a premium for green products because they see the value as beyond a money payback or return on their investment. In fact, going green is not an investment. It is a way of life. They recycle and will go to great lengths to cut down their carbon footprint. While other green consumers may be more superficial in their quest to be green (doing it for status or to save money), idealists ask “What do we need to do to make the world a better place?”

Idealists tend to be active volunteers, highly interested in and connected with their community. Many work in the nonprofit world, and tend to be professionals. They are enthusiastic about sharing ideas and want to be change-makers in the world. You’ll frequently find them online at www.worldchanging.com and their own social networking group, www.idealist.org. They even have a group fan page on Facebook.

Marketing to idealists is simple: tell them it’s the right thing to do. Buy green, build green, because it’s one way they can impact the planet. Easy. You don’t need to plug trendiness or cost saving. Just tell an idealist that it is the socially responsible option.

The takeaway: green consumers come in many shades

Green consumers come in many shades, not just one flat color. If you are marketing a green product you need to understand the different types of green consumer, and aim your marketing at each group slightly differently. No matter what kind of green consumer you are targeting, no matter each person’s rationale for “going green”, it’s important to know this is a movement that is not going away any time soon. Momentum is still picking up across the country and you can take advantage of the different shades of green to help move it forward.

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Written By

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

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