Slowly the US is moving toward a smaller carbon footprint, and new research points to a growing consumer desire to seek out retailers who sell products and services that are kinder to people, pets and the environment. Understanding these consumer´s motivations can benefit a retailer´s bottom line, says Kari Warberg Block, Product Development Expert, and CEO of EARTH-KIND, Inc. the manufacturers of the first ´green´ rodent repellent registered by the Federal EPA.
With rising energy costs, the current economic climate, and more publicity on natural health alternatives than ever before, Consumer preferences have undergone a major shift reflecting a greater concern for the environment, for value, and for health. Nearly 50% of respondents surveyed by Mintel Research indicated that they are purchasing more organic products than before the recession.
As a manufacturer of natural pest control we see this same trend. In fact, green growth has risen to the top of the agenda for many businesses, from 2007-2009 eco-friendly product launches increased by more than 500%. A recent IBM survey found that two-thirds of executives see sustainability as a revenue driver and half of them are working on green initiatives to give them a competitive advantage.
What Drives the ´Green´ Consumers Purchasing Decision?
They want to feel intelligent and informed – not only at the point of purchase, but they want to sustain that feeling at home. Suprisingly, when surveyed, here is what drives the green consumer to being green: Breast Cancer (68%); Education (62%) Children´s Welfare (60%); Environment Destruction (57%); and Poverty (50%); [Mintel US Green Market 2008] many of us support these same causes, but do we let our customers know?
According to Mintel, the Green consumer is influential; optimistic, politically more liberal, and interested in living a healthy lifestyle. The vast majorities, (86%) of respondents are not willing to go out of their way to buy green products, and will buy more if they are easily available. Ask yourself where in your neighborhood this fast growing segment will shop. 85% of these consumers decide on what they will purchase before going to a retailer according to Mintel. Do your manufacturers have an active presence online, or do you?
Is there any wonder why the worlds leading retailer is leading a green charge?
What can you do as a retailer to grow your sales to ´green´ consumer?
1) Watch the Leaders-
• Set up google alerts to stay on top of trends and consumer behavior in your retail industry. Watch what your closest competitors are doing and saying.
• Join Trade associations that dedicate a portion of their resources to the green education. Many times the articles are written by the leaders in product categories (such as this article).
2) Educate Your Employees-
• Hold weekly employee ´walk-throughs´ before store opening to introduce new products and share the best sellers, and highlight relevant information to share with your customers. You´ll be amazed at how a little effort goes a long way to empower employees! Conscious consumers are attracted like magnets to retailers who take the time to educate their employees.
• Pick employees at random each week to lead a portion of the´ walk-through´. It will empower them to look for any edge they can get to stand out on their next walk through. This also spreads a culture of ´champions´.
3) Never Compromise Price for Quality-
• Once you decide to win on price, rather than value, you exempt the most loyal customer base from shopping at your stores. Loss leaders help you serve both, but realistically, you can´t be both. Can you beat the retail leader on price? If not, win their customers for life on value.
• Green consumers are more willing to change their shopping behavior by avoiding a bad company (53%) as opposed to supporting a ´good company´ (37%). Pain still matters at the point of a buying decision. Look for products, like Fresh Cab rodent repellent, that share the startling facts at the POP retail level. Knowledge is power!
• Look for vendors that have third party certifications that insure good stewardship, IE: OMRI, USDA BEES, Good Guide, Green Seal. Check the BBB, and D&B ratings for extra assurance. Customers have been known to sue a retailer who sacrifices quality for low price and someone gets hurt.
4) Hire Smart Rather Than Manage Tough-
• According to Mintel, people aged 18-24 get ´green´ more than any other age. Make them the ´green´ champions in your stores and watch the energy rise.
• Hire people who love to be experts, and love to help people, save money and live better. There is ´good´ reason a retail leader would choose to use this as their tag line!
5) Attention Goes Where Energy Flows!
• Write ´helpful hints and tips´ articles for your local paper, and give it a green focus.
• Establish a blog or facebook fan page so you can let people in your shopping areas know about all the great things you have in your stores. Highlight your vendors, your co-ops recycling program, your customers´ success stories or just share your customers best ´save money´ tips.
It’s clear from the research that ´green´ is growing and growing fast. As a manufacturer of the first and only indoor Federal EPA registered botanical rodent repellent, we offer a monthly newsletter on all things we find of ´value´ that may help our retail partners continue to prosper in these fast changing times. Send us your e-mail and we´ll sign you up: firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.earthkind.com and sign up.