For years people have said they wanted green products, but then when it came time to buy, many did not actually purchase them. However it seems that our society has reached a tipping point and what was once only a niche market has taken off. As more people begin to make value-driven purchases it’s vital that companies find new and engaging ways to grab customers.
As authors Edwina McKechnie and Mike Noel point out in their overview of big businesses turning sustainability into sales — it’s not all about green marketing, it’s about great marketing.
For example, creating sustainable (or making changes to allow a business to be more sustainable) means Tesla is now more valuable than Ford and GM and Nike makes more than 1 billion dollars from shoes that are more resource efficient. Also telling, brands that fall under Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan are growing 50 percent faster than the rest of the portfolio.
Companies such as AT&T, eBay, McDonald’s and Walmart have managed to transition consumers desires for a more sustainable world into sales. In BSR’s Big Brands, Big Impact: A Marketer’s Guide to Behavior Change they examine information about the value of sustainability, results, lessons learned by the brands in their Sustainable Lifestyles Frontier Group.
Some of the key highlights include remembering that sustainability is an added value, not the only value. Other successful efforts include fun leading the way for engagement, such as McDonald’s recycling signage testing which used playful imagery and bright colors to grab customers’ attention. This whimsical approach made it engage customers in the "task" of recycling and was much more effective than the "control scenario" sign, which lacked color and provided basic instructions.
As this area continues to grow and more mainstream consumers move toward purchasing sustainable products, those marketing need to remember that they can change the world, but only through continued, focused marketing efforts.