Green Marketing: Consider Your Audience

Research on eco-marketing has shown that women and men receive “green” messaging very differently. For marketers promoting green products, it is important to note this key challenge to creating messaging. Let’s take a brief look at consumer perceptions on the “green movement,” and why marketers must make note of these major incongruities.

According to a recent survey from Crowd Science’s Just Ask!, women are the primary household spenders (80-85 percent of retail consumer goods) and prefer to be spoken to as a caretaker concerned about the fate of their environment.  Unlike most men, women are driven by product reviews, real life improvements, and what it means to them and their families to live a sustainable lifestyle.

Men, especially those over the age of 55, are much less likely to buy into the green movement overall. The survey found that men are nearly twice as likely to believe that buying “environmentally friendly” products does not make a difference in the quality of the product whatsoever. Research has shown that men simply want the facts and the data. They are interested in, and persuaded by, what other men bought in a similar situation. Men are twice as likely to believe that the green movement is “just a marketing ploy” and are also much less likely to research if their purchases come from ethically-conscious companies.

It has also been shown that education plays a key role in understanding green consumer behavior. The survey revealed that twenty-one percent of people with a post-graduate degree will pay substantially more for green products, compared to only twelve percent of those with an undergraduate or lower level education. Sandra Marshall, Vice President of Research for Crowd Science, noted there is an interesting gap in “green shopitudes” when you consider gender, age, and education. Women and younger age groups appear to be more eco-centric when it comes to shopping practices.

Why does this anomaly between men and women exist when it comes to eco-friendly thinking? Male consumers may be skeptical of environmentally friendly claims because of the lack of consistent packaging and labeling methods. Even the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is experiencing a struggle to police its own internal Green Guides, as research reveals that 65 percent of Americans would prefer just one seal for green products over the hundreds now being used. Research shows more Americans think the primary enforcer of green product claims should be a third-party certification system, like the Good Housekeeping Seal. Note that women make up 87 percent of Good Housekeeping’s readership.

If you’re considering using “green” messaging to promote a product or service, consider the target market. If it’s men, spending money on developing new message strategies or product packaging may not pay off. A one-size-fits-all strategy does not exist—considering sex in your messaging approach is key as your company embarks upon new green initiatives.

One thought on “Green Marketing: Consider Your Audience

  1. leftintucson

    A very good piece about differences in perceptions between men and women when it comes to buying green. I have been reading labels, avoiding additives and preservatives, avoiding products with excessive packaging or in plastic containers, and using my own shopping bags since the first Earth Day. It is so gratifying to now see that businesses have finally discovered that being green can be profitable. Keep up the good work!

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