Hundreds of studies have been published about peoples’ growing preference for green products and businesses. In recent research, eight out of ten Americans said they make going green a priority in their lives. However, in the same study conducted by Information Resources, those attitudes didn’t always translate into green purchases.
“Although mainstream shoppers say they want green, their behavior shows they want great price, outstanding quality, superb service, and convenient access first. The retail owner must understand his or her market with their head and not just act on their heart,”
says David Ian Gray of Dig360 Consulting. Having succeeded in meeting these baseline needs, what must retailers do to make green practices another aspect of a profitable business?
Making It Easy To Be Green
There are two major influences that prevent people from acting on their green preferences.
First, it can be inconvenient, requiring research and time to find environmentally friendly products and services. People are increasingly busy and mobile, they may want to buy from a green retailer, but are unable to make an investment in finding them.
Smart greentailers will take advantage of this knowledge. Think local and get listed on eco directories such as www.organicconsumers.org, or www.greenamericatoday.org, the latter rigorously screens companies for environmental and social practices before adding them to their Green Pages.
Retailers shouldn’t forget about mobile consumers, get listed on iPhone apps like 3rd Whale Mobile, which provides locations for green companies and services in over 100 cities.
Second, people have a healthy dose of skepticism. It’s not enough to say you’re a environmentally friendly business, you have to provide proof of green claims.
For instance, think about how your products are labeled or displayed. When people have the time, they will read labels to find information, like an item’s country of origin or ingredients. While many retailers may not have the option to change product labeling, it’s possible to provide additional environmental back-story using an attention getting display.
Involve Customers In Green Programs
While large corporations may appear to be leaders in tackling green issues, their sheer size prevents them from getting consumers actively involved in their environmental programs. This creates an opportunity for small retailers, who often have more intimate connections with their customer base.
Customers who patronize small businesses want to know how these companies are involved in environmental activities. When your company recycles, reduces, reuses or provides sustainable packaging use this as an opportunity to tell the customer. Even better, tell them how their individual purchases are benefiting the environment. Tell customers how buying a locally sourced product saves gallons in gas and reduces CO2 emissions while putting dollars in fellow Americans’ pockets.
When a retailer acts as a role model it’s easier to encourage customers to want to live a greener lifestyle. One-way is to highlight options for reusing packaging, that’s the purpose of the Reuse Today section on our website. Be sure to point customers to these environmentally friendly ideas.