By Ashley Coale
Are you an in-aisle label reader? How often have you chosen a product because it has post-consumer packaging or because it lacks sulfates and phosphates? What about seeking out local alternatives to carbon-intensive products from far away? While this behavior may have been quite unique a decade ago, it is no longer. We are witnessing the rise of the conscious consumer.
According to a 2011 study by OgilvyEarth of US consumers, about 16 percent of those surveyed are deeply committed to purchasing green and think of themselves as sustainability-oriented. Facilitating the green consumer’s purchasing decisions, the rise in online transparency tools, like GoodGuide, is helping a consumer quickly understand and rate a company’s health, environmental and social practices and impacts. Similarly, CSRHub allows users to view corporate ratings in light of a certain activity or practice with its Special Issues feature. Interested in knowing if that company is involved in nuclear power? What about animal testing? Look no more.
That there are consumers who purchase with these issues in mind means that 70 million adults in the United States are defined by their shared values rather than just traditional demographic data. According to the Unleashed report by BBMG, these consumers are “twice as likely to try new things, share their opinions online and reward (or punish) brands based on corporate practices.” And, they are even willing to pay more for a sustainable product.
We expect that this trend will only continue to grow. The super green market is key not just because it is deeply committed to certain values, but also because it has the potential to be quite influential. These are consumers that are willing to advocate for their favorite brands and the values behind them. Purchasing decisions based on values run deep, and there is a distinct potential in capturing this market and helping take it to scale.
As the same OgilvyEarth study points out, we have a “green gap” to conquer. In addition to those deeply committed 16 percent, there is another 66 percent of consumers that have good green intentions, but lack a consistent track record of purchasing with a purpose. This is a significant opportunity that will require changes in branding, communication and price points. As marketers and brands understand how to communicate and reach this green gap, we will see a continued rise in sustainability-committed consumers and the continued power of making change with where you spend your dollar.
Image courtesy of jason.kaechler
Ashley Coale has a long-standing passion for business sustainability and the impact that strong, effective communications campaigns can have in catalyzing change. As the Social Media Editor, Ashley manages social media and communications outreach at CSRHub. She is responsible for crafting and implementing content and strategy. Her communications experience includes a wide range of causes including international development, human rights, and federal and municipal sustainability policy. She holds a bachelors degree from Wellesley College and a Masters degree from the London School of Economics. A native of Portland, Oregon, she now makes her home in Brooklyn.