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ReThinking The Green Consumer. The Rise of Generation Change

Short article that rethinks how we can look at the green consumer - explores the rise of generation change. Written in early 2008 as part of the Luckie & Company newsletter series.

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ReThinking The Green Consumer. The Rise of Generation Change

  1. 1. BY: DAVID STUTTS, DIRECTOR OF BRAND PLANNING Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, you know there is a green movement afoot. It’s hard to open a newspaper, turn on the TV or surf the Web without bumping into some brand that has embraced its inner tree-hugger. This is a good thing, and I believe it is a long-term shift in behavior, not a topical fad like spandex or the South Beach Diet. Here at Luckie & Company, we’ve been doing quite a bit of homework and thinking about how brands can best communicate their “greenness” to today’s eco-friendly consumers. Our friends at Iconoculture have coined a term, “shades or green,” which refers to all the different levels of environmentalism from those looking to be carbon neutral to those who are mainly interested in a more organic diet or lifestyle. We couldn’t agree more. Shades of green are everywhere when it comes to being environmentally involved. And there are a LOT of people wearing some shade of green these days. In fact, there are so many of them, we decided to call them Generation Change. Generation Change is not a typical generation defined by common demographics, rather a generation defined by a common mindset: a concern for the environment and the desire to do something about it. This is a big generation; MRI data shows about 53% of the U.S. adult population falls into this group. Probably the best opportunity for brands desiring to connect with Generation Change is to target those in the “middle green” space. The “dark green” folks are a very small segment that are very set in their green ways and are likely to be highly skeptical of anyone trying to talk green with them. While the “light green” folks represent a good chunk of Generation Change, they are not quite ready to make a meaningful commitment to going green (they’ll talk green, but won’t follow-up with actions).
  2. 2. BY: DAVID STUTTS, DIRECTOR OF BRAND PLANNING The “middle green” folks have probably been going green for a while, even if they haven’t fully realized they are doing so. Not only do they talk green, they have taken some green steps in their personal lives, such as participating in a neighborhood recycling program, replacing traditional light bulbs with CFLs and buying energy-efficient appliances for their homes when they remodel. They’re interested in hybrid auto technology, but not quite ready to buy. They’ve realized that not only is it important for them to be active in the green space, but it is also important for the businesses and brands they interact with to be involved as well. These middle greensumers are expecting brands to introduce products and services that are environmentally responsible, yet offer the same convenience factors as previous products and really don’t cost much more than existing products. It is a tricky road, but one that must be followed in order to keep (or gain) business from these middle green folks. They’ve started to make a green commitment and are not going to reverse course. On the other hand, they’re not likely to end up in the true sustainability camp that the dark green folks covet, but they will be green when it matters to them. Following are five steps brands can take to create a meaningful connection with these middle green consumers 1. Be green because you can be, not because you want to be 2. Understand that many consumers are already tapping into their greenness whether they realize it or not (what can your brand do to help) 3. Offer green innovation in categories where it is not expected but will be appreciated 4. Don’t apologize for lack of a green past. Rather, focus on a green future 5. Engage your customer bases and work together to create the right mix of green products and services