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How Do Consumers Identify Sustainable Products and Services?

A new study conducted by a Kitchener-based nonprofit set out to answer that question.

A new study conducted by a Kitchener-based nonprofit set out to answer that question. By intercepting Canadian shoppers outside of retail locations and assessing their in-home inventory, researchers found that the participants who owned and used the least sustainable products and services are university educated, own their homes and live in households with two or more persons.

Tania Del Matto, Director at My Sustainable Canada notes that “81 percent of our respondents reported that the store they just shopped in did not have alternative, more sustainable products to meet their product needs. This suggests that most consumers are not aware that sustainable options are now available in many of the product categories they regularly purchase.”

So, how can marketers make consumers notice and purchase green products that are on the shelves?

  • Show consumers how they’re making a difference. Use packaging that highlights social welfare and warm relations as virtues of green consumption. Tell consumers why they should buy green products. Persuade consumers that each individual can make a difference.

  • Connect green products to status. Research shows that when status is important, consumers may buy green products with inferior attributes – especially when they cost more. Try using celebrity endorsements or linking to upscale events when designing marketing campaigns for expensive green products.

  • Provide credible information about company’s good deeds. Ensure corporate communications provides credible and reliable information to the media, as older consumers will boycott unethical firms. Try including point of sale information to trigger recall of companies’ good deeds.

  • Don’t compromise quality or functionality. Consumers will on average pay a 10 percent premium for green products, but won’t trade off functionality. Make sure marketing messages are simple and make the added benefits clear while noting that there is no trade-off.For more information, read the

My Sustainable Canada study and NBS’ Executive Report on Socially Conscious Consumerism.

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