Attracting the Environmentally Conscious Consumer

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A growing number of consumers prefer to buy from green retailers — those that demonstrate they're working to improve the environment. Are you catering to these people?

One recent survey suggests that more than half (53 percent) of consumers consider a retailer's green posture when deciding where to shop. In fact, according the survey of 3,000 consumers between the ages of 18 and 49 conducted by Boston marketing firm AMP Agency, 57 percent are likely to trust a green company, 60 percent are likely to purchase its products, and 58 percent are like to recommend the company or its products to others.

Here's the kicker: Three-quarters of survey participants said that they would pay a premium of as much as 10 percent for green products. You can find out more about the AMP Agency by visiting www.ampagency.com or calling 617-723-8929.

MARKETING YOUR GREEN PHILOSOPHY

Assuming that you've actually incorporated a green philosophy into your dealership and that you are taking steps to save energy and decrease your carbon footprint, how can you tell your customers about what you're doing? It may be easier than you think. One way is to tie in your business with organizations that specialize in green activities. Here are just two:

  • Trees for the Future (TFTF). This international project is easy to use and inexpensive, and can work no matter where your company is located. Trees is a 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Silver Springs, Md., that plants trees around the world. Companies frequently partner with TFTF by donating a portion of each of its sales to the organization for the planting of trees. For example, Celestial Seasonings, a tea producer, sponsors one tree for each box of tea it sells. The cost per tree is 10 cents. If you would prefer to do something here at home instead of overseas, why not look for a local program, or start one of your own? For more information on TFTF, visit www.treesftf.org.
  • RecycleBank. This service is not available in every state, but it has a nice consumer angle to it. It gives consumers money in the form of coupons and gift certificates that can be cashed at local retailers (like your store) for simply recycling materials at home. Recycle Bank says the program provides "a great opportunity" for businesses to get their name out in front of thousands of households and to demonstrate that they are actively promoting energy savings. Get more information at www.recyclebank.com.

In Minneapolis, the small local courier service EcoXpress has separated itself in this highly competitive business by taking over the "green" niche. Owner Randy Larson ties in with both TFTF and RecycleBank, among other green marketing approaches.

Speaking of his unusual marketing approach, Larson says: "We can help the community and we can have our niche; we can be different from everyone else. We can help the environment at the same time we create a marketing advantage for ourselves."

A WORKING PLAN

Looking for a way to get started marketing your dealership's green initiative? Try some of these steps suggested by BSDGlobal, a think tank that promotes sustainable programs for energy conservation.

  • Manage "greening" strategically. Develop a vision and a policy and get the buy-in of key people at your company. Then involve all of your company's stakeholders: suppliers, consumers, employees, etc.
  • Arrange alliances with other environmentally conscious companies in your community. This is where the Trees program and the recycling bank mentioned above come in. Aggressively promote these alliances in your dealership's external communications programs. Make certain that your existing customer base knows what you are doing. Take credit for your good work.
  • Educate the public and your customers to ways that your products — especially motorcycles and scooters — are environmentally friendly. And make certain that people know what steps you've taken to save energy in your dealership.
  • Prepare a "cheat sheet" for your employees, so they can discuss several key steps that your dealership and your manufacturers are taking to save energy. Prepare them to discuss the subject with their customers, their prospects and their friends.

The bottom line here is to take steps to save energy across your product portfolio, and within your building and your operations. Then compile a list of things that you are actually doing and use your normal marketing communications tools — advertising, public relations, e-mail blasts, your Web site, customer communications, employee outreach programs — to tell the public what you are doing and why these steps are important for the environment and for your community. It's a two-step process: First, do good things. Second, tell people about it.