It should be simple. Buying Eco-friendly products and services, that is. But unfortunately, it's often not simple, even for customers who value the environment or who prioritize the environment when making buying decisions!
It's a sad reality for businesses that offer green products and services, because it's not enough to simply list the green features of what they're offering.
And it's not the customer's fault either. Shoppers often receive conflicting information, making it harder to choose among products. Or, they simply won't part with their hard earned cash unless they're convinced the product truly is beneficial and the best use of their dollar.
It takes a lot to get people to buy green . . .
. . . even people who care about their health, their family's health and the planet's health.
If your business is Eco-friendly, you want to get your product or service out into the world, and you want to make sure target customers understand the benefits, both personally and environmentally.
To that end, let's take a look at what stands between your Eco-friendly product or service and your customer. Following that, I will offer 5 suggestions to help you determine how to best reach your potential customers..
To put it simply, customers don't care how green your product is.
I can see most of you thinking, "What?"
It seems like a loaded statement . . . but in reality, while many people will say, "Of course I care about my family's health . . . my health. . . and the future of the planet," in reality, most consumers don't back up what they say by purchasing green products or services over non-green ones.
That's right. Even people who say they want or prefer Earth friendly offerings often don't buy them.
Let's take a look at 8 reasons why:
- Their friends and immediate circle don't buy green
- Green products are more expensive, and when customers compare prices, the lower price wins
- Non-green products are more readily available where customers live
- People are suspicious of "green" claims and distrustful of companies who they think are only out to make a profit
- They believe green or organic products are "luxury" items
- They feel one little change won't matter because environmental issues are too big and overwhelming
- They're confused, especially about terminology. ("All natural," "low VOC's," "non-toxic ingredients," etc.)
- Going green is a lower priority than other issues in their lives.
Now that you know some of the reason customers have a hard time choosing your green product, let's look at some facts and figures. If you love statistics (and who doesn't?), here are some numbers that can help illustrate these issues better.
According to the Center for Media Research, a 2012 Ipsos Poll with RetailMeNot.com asked consumers about their green purchasing habits and found that even people who are environmentally minded have struggles around purchasing green products.
Only 3% of poll respondents only buy green products. And while 70 % of respondents are aware of the environmental impact of products they buy regularly, only 57% of those people actually use that information when they buy products!
Also, 6% of the survey responses came from people who say they never buy Eco-friendly products.
While the above statistics can seem depressing, there is some good news. These survey responses can help businesses just like yours decide the best way to market products to increase the likelihood that consumers will buy.
What information from the survey can your business use to your advantage? Here are some helpful findings:
- 40% of replies came from people who said they would choose green if the products were readily available and did not have a big cost difference, as compared to non-green products.
- While almost 60% of people said they wouldn't be willing to pay a higher price for green products, many did say they would consider paying more as long as they knew the product was environmentally friendly. So, price is a huge factor in the purchasing decisions of Eco-conscious consumers, as is a good understanding of how a product is good for the environment.
- 29% of people responding to the survey said they are lacking knowledge about the green qualities of the products they purchase daily. This opens the door for your business to provide quality information to customers about why your product is better for the environment, which could also help sway the people who pay attention to environmental impacts of purchases and use that information to make purchases. (According to the poll, this was about 46% of respondents).
5 Ways to Help Potential Customers Choose Your Green Product
- Pay attention to price. Unfortunately, the reality of consumer purchases does seem to come down to price. Most people aren't willing to pay more for a product just because it is green. Many people are going to compare the price to non-green products, and if the price is too steep, they may choose the non-green product even if they like to make environmentally aware purchases.
- Clearly define your businesses' or products' green benefits. Many customers have learned to become suspicious of green claims thanks to shady companies and products that are later revealed to be "green washing" their biz or product. (Green washing is a term used to describe a business or organization that appears more environmentally friendly than they actually are). Make sure your products stand up to your claims and that this information is readily available to potential customers.
- Provide easy access to your products or services. If customers feel that getting to your offering is inconvenient in any way, they may choose something that is easier to obtain. Most people don't want to wait a lengthy amount of time to receive products, or learn that it's not readily available somewhere online. In today's digital climate, it's relatively easy to have a secure location online for purchases. However, don't forget that after the purchase, customers need to receive the item relatively quickly in order to feel completely satisfied with their experience.
- Translate your product's benefits into plain English. If you are hoping to reach new customers who are not yet Eco savvy, you don't want to scare them away with an entire Dictionary's worth of technical "Eco" jargon. If important terms do apply to your business and you need to use them to market or describe your product, break them down for customers in a way that is simple and concrete. For example, you want people to understand why your organic cotton is not the same as commercially available cotton products; or why mineral makeup is healthier for skin than regular makeup, so they can make an informed purchasing decision.
- Get your customers' friends on board. Surprisingly, the biggest influence on people who purchase green products or who follow green practices are their friends and peers! For example, hotels that offer a "towel reuse" policy to reduce unnecessary washing can convince more people to follow the policy if they provide statistics about how many people in that hotel follow the policy than if they provide statistics about the benefits to the planet or how many people across the country follow the policy. Find ways to reach and compare to people in your customers' immediate circle and it could provide long lasting benefits to your business.
As a green business owner, you need to make money to keep your business going, but you also care about your product and its positive impact on the world. In fact, it's highly likely the reason why you started a business to begin with. But the reality is that even in 2017, it's hard to motivate customers to purchase green products or services just because they're green.
It's up to you to help potential customers see the value of what your offering, whether it's for their health, the health of their families, or the health of the planet (or all three!). Communicating the benefits and the worth of your product to customers is your number one priority.
An understanding of the barriers between customers and purchasing green products, as well as the concrete actions you can take to help dissolve these barriers, could make all the difference in the world.