Going Green No Longer Gold

Lately it seems as though everyone’s hoping on the green movement bandwagon or making a considerable effort at faking eco-consciousness. Supermarkets and department stores are stocked with products that claim to be environmentally friendly as advertisers compete for the other kind of green—consumer cash. But the latest sales figures reveal a fickle and often skeptical public growing cold on last year’s red hot niche.

Naturally, there are still the faithful few who refuse to buy products that pollute. These people will always engage in conspicuous consumption; the rest of the population simply isn’t committed enough to adopting a low impact lifestyle.

The data shows that while most shoppers do prefer green products, they aren’t willing to pay more for them, tolerate inferior alternatives, or blindly accept marketing claims. Even bottled water is making a comeback, which highlights consumers’ real priorities. Essentially, they value convenience over preserving the planet for future generations.

This may strike some as a bad blow to a once thriving industry, but this analysis overlooks several pertinent factors. For starters, people are still tightening their belts because of the financial situation. As the economy improves, advertisers will likely see higher levels of enthusiasm return. Additionally, the green boom inspired a host of misleading and disingenuous advertising. These unethical practices brought short term gains, but dishonest campaigns don’t have staying power for obvious reasons. Consumers don’t appreciate being manipulated and they usually react by closing their wallets. In a way, the green movement’s loss of momentum might be a positive occurrence because sagging sales will weed out the bad apples. Those only interested in huge profits are going to move on to the next cash cow, leaving the truly green merchants to compete for market share. Eventually, consumer confidence will return as companies establish themselves as reliable, eco-friendly brands.

Marketers can take away some important lessons from the decline and fall of the eco-craze. Consumers clearly don’t care that much about reducing their carbon footprints per say as an abstract principle. They aren’t entirely apathetic, but they won’t go out of their way to make green choices. Consequently, advertisers shouldn’t rely solely on this selling point. For items to sell well, they have to be affordable as well as aesthetically pleasing; consumers see the green factor as secondary at best. Furthermore, younger demographic groups (millennials)are the target market for green products. Adjust your strategy accordingly.

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