Buying green? A complex issue.
The design of the marketing strategy of green products has to be founded on the principle that:
– the environmental aspects of a product are important for people in their role as a citizen,
– but are only of a secondary importance for people in their role as a consumer (at the moment of purchase)
See tab Buying behavior for the Double Filter Model , and the theory of Jacquelyn Ottman on the personal benefit and the environmental benefit.
As a consequence, the consumer appears in reality (at the point of sales) less positive about environmental issues than the producer (designer) hopes.
The marketing strategy for commodity products must be different from the marketing strategy for quality products:
– for commodity products, the consumer will only chose for the environmental solution, when the price is not much higher (maximum 5% to 10%)
– for quality products, the green aspects of a product may become part of the image of a product (see webpage value, the concept)
For commodity products (water, electricity, food ingredients, but also electronic appliances like video recorders and services like travel by plane), where price is the predominant selection criterion for the market segment, the environmental aspects might become the competitive edge.
Green Mountain Energy Company in the USA is one of the first companies in the world that realises (since 1997) that there is an enormous potential for ‘green’ electricity in a free and open energy market for consumers, because it is hard to differentiate such a product ( all electricity is equal). Their marketing studies in the USA show that 50% of the households are interested in green electricity, as it is in Europe. Their approach is pure marketing driven in the modern way, appealing to the ‘feel good’ factor. which is quite important in our current society. They combine the ‘environmental benefit’ with the ‘personal benefit’ (“what’s in it for me?”) of their product. See their website www.greenmountain.com for the way the market their products.
- the concept of the EVR
- consumer expenditures
- design alternatives
- product innovation
- product portfolio strategy
- green marketing
For quality products, the situation is more complex.
It appeared in the experiments of the Double Filter Model that the fact that a product is green, suddenly can become the decisive factor in the final choice. This is the case when two (completely) different solutions for the same functionality are perceived as equal in terms of value for money. In such cases, the situation is comparable with the situation for commodity products.