Past experiences of businesses, from organic wine to athletic shoes, show that having success in today's green marketplace is complex and interwoven with human psychology. They also reveal an opportunity for savvy sellers to take advantage of a growing consumer market that remains largely untapped. Giving consumers more and better information does not go far enough. Success requires a holistic approach that accounts for both the altruistic and egoistic motivations of consumers. This book lays out how to do so, reaping profits while harmonizing the business world with the environment.
Early environmentalists committed themselves to self-sacrifice, using consumption as activism. Modern excuse makers have less capacity for such sacrifice, relying instead on tech-driven solutions to environmental concerns. They need more than prosocial benefits. The majority of today's consumers want personal benefits.
Convenient environmentalists see how their actions affect themselves as well as others. But therein lies the motivation—they want recognition for their prosocial environmental behavior, and you can give it to them. These consumers need information, and they need to understand how their actions will effect change. Bundling environmental benefits with private benefits is the best way to reach them.
Quality is the most obvious benefit to environmentally friendly products. Tesla is a leader in this territory, but it is not alone. Environmental products that feature quality include well-designed offerings like energy-efficient refrigerators and even high fashion. Usability, durability, comfort, and convenience are qualities that often come naturally with green products.
Status is a powerful tool to compel consumer behavior. People care what others think about them, and helping the environment is a good look for most people. Celebrities and other high-profile individuals bring high status to the table, motivating people to go green. By making sure products put out a visible green signal, businesses can put peer pressure to work.
Health: nothing else matters if you don't have it. Natural and environmental goods often come with health benefits, directly such as with organic food, and indirectly by improving things like air quality. Health sells, especially at certain critical junctures of people's lives, including the birth of a child or a family member's illness.
Money as a benefit seems straightforward, but its relationship with environmental goods is complicated. Sometimes, high prices deter consumers. Other times, savings from efficient appliances may be too small or long term for people to care about. Properly framed to account for human psychology, however, appealing to wallets and pocketbooks is an effective way to be more sustainable consumers.
Emotions move people in many ways, and they can move people to buy green too. For too long, environmentalists have focused on fear-based messages. They don't work, but connecting people to the positive real-world effects products have on people, animals, and the planet does. People often need to be shown the outcome of their green behavior—and the difference it makes. Good storytelling makes that happen.
For the green bundle to work, companies must avoid green lies. Greenwashing, whether intentional or not, is an all-too-common problem that damages credibility and undermines the market for sustainable goods and services. There are concrete steps businesses can take to ensure openness, honesty, and accuracy when communicating about environmental benefits.
To sell sustainability, companies need to walk the talk. In a world where information gets shared instantly and widely, transparency is no longer an option—it's a reality. From CEOs to the supply chain, companies need to genuinely be green. There are internal and external tools and methods that will make it easier. Then, a clear and legitimate message can be sent that will motivate more people to buy.
A sustainability revolution is possible when we harness the natural, human urge to consume. Most companies have taken idealistic approaches that neglect that urge. Pairing environmental, altruistic benefits with private benefits creates a win-win for consumers. The usefulness of green bundle strategies depends greatly on context. When audiences care more about the environment, green messages will resonate. When they care less, it may be better to mute green selling points. To use the bundle, businesses can start by integrating sustainability with internal structures, and they should consider working with governments to develop greater transparency on environmental issues.