Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mainstreaming Green Behaviors Demands Massive New Approach

This from Ogilvy & Mather, one of the world's leading advertising agencies.

NEW YORK, NY, April 18, 2011 – When it comes to motivating the mainstream American consumer to act, the messages and techniques offered by marketers, governments, and NGOs around sustainability have been missing the mark, according to a study released today by OgilvyEarth (www.ogilvyearth.com) a leading sustainability consultancy. The study, “Mainstream Green: Moving sustainability from niche to normal” provides new insight on how to close the Green Gap that persists between what consumers say and what they actually do around sustainable living. 
“Research shows that many of the environmental messages are not just failing to close the Green Gap, but are actually cementing it by making green behavior too difficult and costly from a practical, financial, and social standpoint,” explained Graceann Bennett, Director of Strategic Planning, Ogilvy & Mather; Contributing Strategist at OgilvyEarth; and co-author of the study. “Many of the world’s leading corporations are staking their futures on the bet that sustainability will become a major driver of mainstream consumer purchase behavior. Unless they can figure out how to close the gap, there will never be a business case for green,” added Freya Williams, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy at OgilvyEarth and co-author of the study.
Closing the Green GapTo close the Green Gap, the study found, leading organizations should find ways to normalize sustainable behaviors. The twelve recommendations provided include:
  • Make it Normal: The great Middle Green is not looking to set themselves apart from everyone else. They want to fit in. When it comes to driving mass behavior change, marketers need to restrain the urge to make going green feel cool or different, and instead make it normal. 
  • Eliminate the Sustainability Tax: The high prices of many of the greener products suggest an attempt to limit or discourage more sustainable choices. Eliminating the price barrier eliminates the notion that green products are not for normal citizens. 
  • Make Eco-friendly Male Ego-friendly: Sustainability must strike a chord with male consumers by considering what works in traditional marketing. For example, automotive brands with alternative fuel vehicles are finding success by sticking to what has been shown to work — sleek ads with an emphasis on speed and design.  
  • Lose the Crunch: Just because a product is green doesn’t mean it must be packaged in burlap. For green marketing to succeed, it must be liberated from the traditional stereotypes to emphasize the most compelling personal benefits.
  • Hedonism over Altruism: The emotional tenor of sustainable marketing to date has been focused on appeals to Americans’ altruistic tendencies, but our research shows that this is to deny human nature. Wise brands are tapping into enjoyment over altruism.

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