Why aren’t consumers putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to making more responsible choices? Nielsen’s latest report may state that one in four customers would choose a green product even if it meant forking out more cash, but it’s true that this is hardly reflected in buying behaviour.
We have become a ‘what’s in it for me?’ culture. People really do need to see a tangible benefit or difference they can personally appreciate and take advantage of to convince them to buy green. People have to want to go green it will never happen if they are forced. So what could be the what’s in it for me bit?
“There need to be little steps to change our behaviour”
As always, money matters. Cost is such a key driver of most purchases. I really connected with the vision of Dean Attwell from Oakland International and Julian Walker-Palin of Asda, who both believe that green products should become cheaper than mainstream. If processes, transportation, packaging etc are reduced, then why should it cost more to buy more responsibly? It makes so much sense and would start to change behaviours that would hopefully stick in the long term.
It’s also a case of little and often. There need to be more initiatives that require little steps to change our behaviour over time as opposed to huge disruptive movements. While the purists would say that we should be changing overnight and not messing about with small initiatives, surely, to borrow Tesco’s philosophy, every little helps?
Being encouraged to turn the tap off while brushing your teeth? It’s easy and really effective at saving water. How about retailers celebrating baskets that are 25% rather than 100% green to make people feel good about making the effort?
Effective product experiences are also key. Many green alternatives still deliver inferior performance. If a product works and is tangibly better, consumers will not want to buy an alternative non-green version. I would buy far more green brands if I felt they would actually work and looked attractive.
Lastly, services. Services should be created that will help people be green. If we can’t find the willpower to adopt a DIY approach, people may be prepared to pay for other people to do it for them - a DIFM (do it for me) approach? Retailers could offer to take the packaging from consumers at till points, so they don’t have to take it home. Would people pay for that? What other green services could be offered?
The future for the successful adoption of ‘good’ green behaviour is to make it cost-effective, make it work, and make it easier. Sounds easy when you say it like that. Why does it feel such a chore?
Claire Nuttall is founding partner of Thrive