Naturally derived cleaning products
Craving green - Sustainable products as impulse buys
As sustainability bleeds into mass market products the question is how can manufacturers take advant
Companies need to understand those strategies that lead to unplanned, or impulse purchases. This is especially important in a time of diminishing disposable income.
The Impulse Buy
Impulse buys satisfy the desire of the moment – often at a higher cost than the price tag. With today’s social climate of transparent information, consumers increasingly hold companies accountable for pollution, excessive packaging, and unethical employment practices. The question is – are we seeing a new breed of impulse products? And are they being influenced significantly by macro consumer trends? The answer is, inevitably, yes, at least for developed markets. Brand manufacturers need to develop strategies that increase market share over the short to medium term.
The New Consumer
As the sustainability meme spreads, more and more consumers aspire to be “green.” A pivotal study, “The Green Revolution” discovered “light” and “dark” green consumers. Dark greens– who insist on sustainability and gladly pay a premium—compose a mere 9% of shoppers. However, 89% identified as shades of “light green,” leaning towards green products while realistically balancing considerations like effectiveness, safety, and price. BBMG, took the concept to heart: they have released annual reports on the evolution of “light green” consumption for three years. Their 2011 report predicts a tipping point in green consumption, where the influence of light greens will finally scale true sustainability to mainstream consumption.
The increasingly-knowledgeable light green consumers weigh many factors whilst purchasing, so their pain response could be tripped by a number of Although light greens do not research products, they remain fiercely loyal once they have found an effective sustainable product.considerations. Because environmental awareness has been on the social radar for a while, consumers face green fatigue and even toss around the phrase “green-washing.” Although light greens do not research products, they remain fiercely loyal once they have found an effective sustainable product. Socially connected, this group spreads the word of mouth to their friends via connected social media on mobile devices.
Disdainful of advertising, this group trusts friend recommendations more than company claims, especially within Gen Y who as a core impulse purchasing demographic group crave realism and rely on peer advice.
Impulse Without Regret
Over 60% of all “green” product purchases are made on impulse, often out of simple curiosity.Over 60% of all “green” product purchases are made on impulse, often out of simple curiosity.
In fact, 84% of light greens admit their first eco-conscious product was an impulse purchase brought on by curiosity and an impulse urge. And the environment is only one facet of sustainability – everything from workforce employment, to packaging, ingredients source and waste disposal is subject to scrutiny. Companies can use in-store contact points including, POS displays, or RRP to stimulate light green consumers’ curiosity, and even charge a higher price for products successfully positioned as sustainable.
When Clorox first introduced their Green Works cleaning products, consumers gladly paid a 25% markup over conventional products. Even wading into the crowded Wal-Mart shelves, and even with the Recession forcing prices lower, the company’s market share continued to climb through this year to nearly 50%.
Consumers get around green-washing by searching for signs of authenticity, like third-party certification of social and environmental benefits. This may be why 75% of consumers say a Fair Trade Label makes them feel positive about a purchase, and 30% say it increases purchase interest. (Harvard Research, 2011) The most important signal of sustainability in almost every single product category is packaging. It makes sense – not many will buy an item designed to help the environment if it comes wrapped in polluting layers.
Packaging influences purchase even more than store atmosphere. People first notice color, then shape, and finally labels and logos. A sustainable product should hit those three notes. Color can be used as a cue. Consumers most likely associate green with sustainability, but too much green is perceived as green-washing. A distinct shape, like Method’s home and personal care products, can be made with earth-friendly materials to strike an authentic harmony. Finally, third-party certifications can be used to position the product as a holistically sustainable alternative.
The Green Works product line features iconic natural images of flowers, accented with the sustainability cue, green. The traditional spray bottle prevents confusion about the product’s purpose. Finally, the Clorox logo adds credibility and trust – especially when combined with the Design for the Environment Certification.
Taking it to the Tribe
There are three key appeals to the new consumers: practicality, sustainability, and community. Light green consumers trust each other, and brands that enable communication between advocates will amplify this tendency. Clorox’s “Green Works” line includes a portal where consumers can post and discuss ideas for natural cleaning products. Beyond the web, emerging technologies let light green consumers explore and share sustainable products, or even punish unsustainable companies, anywhere. And as more and more people tune in to light green and sustainable consumption, companies will benefit or suffer in proportion to their efforts to court the new consumers. Companies that do not address light greens’ concerns will face social networks and media savvy. Just look at PETA’s sabotaging of Volkswagon’s Twitter campaign for signs of things to come.
The New Desire
Post-recession, consumers continue to demand fewer items of higher quality. From event give-aways to private-label groceries, less is more. A single item that will last twice as long can command a premium price. Using packaging to catch attention, including authenticity cues to overcome green fatigue, companies can seal the deal with a quality product. The combination will trigger an impulse buy, and create a foundation for customer loyalty rather than regret. The right positioning can overcome the pain response, giving consumers the joy of buying without the guilt.