Why Green Consumers Make the BEST Customers


By Shel Horowitz

Tim Kovach wrote here recently about some of the benefits of going Green beyond the straight dollars-and-cents energy payback. But he didn’t happen to mention something dear to my heart: the two huge marketing advantages of going Green.

New Customers Are Predisposed to Buy From You

More and more people want to patronize Green companies, as awareness of climate change gets deeper and deeper. If you can provide a Green alternative, and especially if you can do it at a price and value point that is competitive with less Green alternatives, you’ve got the customer–as long as that customer knows how to find you in the marketplace, and knows why you’re the right choice.

Customers Become Loyalists and then Ambassadors

If you treat that customer right, if you make that person feel that you feel it’s a privilege to work together, if he or she feels special because of working with you, here’s the really great thing: customers like that start telling their friends. If you treat them well enough, they start bragging on you. They start insisting that their friends do business with you!

Consider this: Depending on which study you believe, it takes most companies five to ten times as much to bring in a new customer through traditional marketing methods as to bring an old one back again. Which means that when an existing customer brings you a new one, the first sale to that customer could be as much as 90 percent more profitable than finding that customer on your own. Nice, huh?

Thus, if you can successfully convey your Green message, and the customer feels valued, you put a lot of extra revenue straight into profitability. And you don’t have to work as hard on marketing :-).

Marcal's latest packaging shows awareness that recycling is a marketing asset

Marcal's latest packaging shows awareness that recycling is a marketing asset


A Real Life Example: Marcal

Back in the 1970s, when I first began to be aware of environmental issues, I started looking around for a low-cost brand of recycled household products. At that time, the only recycled brands I knew about were very pricy, and as a low-income student, I couldn’t afford to pay three times as much as the cheap commercial brands.

But it turns out one of the most available and affordable brands in New York City (where I grew up) is Marcal, and Marcal switched to recycled paper in–get this–1950. However, the company kept it a secret for a long time. It’s only in the last few years that the company understood the powerful marketing asset it was sitting on.

Why am I not surprised that Marcal became the category leader once it started trumpeting its environmental virtues?

Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, by Jay Levinson and Shel Horowitz

Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, by Jay Levinson and Shel Horowitz


Additional Green Marketing Resources

I’ve written a whole book on marketing Green, including a big section on how to convert customers to fans to ambassadors: Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet (co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson, who does all the Guerrilla Marketing books).

If you register your purchase on that website, you get $2000 worth of extra-value goodies with your book.

Green and ethical marketing consultant Shel Horowitz shows you how to reach Green, socially conscious consumers with marketing that has THEM calling YOU. The award-winning author of eight books, Shel is currently creating a new trade association for Green marketers: the International Association of Earth-Conscious Marketers.

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Comments

  1. Tim Kovach says:

    Great piece, Shel, and thanks for linking to my article. Clearly businesses have much to gain from becoming more sustainable, whether it is bottom-line ROI benefits like the ones I discussed or the tremendous potential benefits that can come from successfully marketing your green business.

    I was familiar with Marcal products – I buy them myself since they are made of post-consumer recycled, chlorine free paper – but I did not realize they had been using these materials for 60 years. That’s a great story to share and really gets to the heart of using effective marketing and communications to spread the word about your green effort. Businesses need to be aware of best practices for sharing their efforts with customers and potential customers; it definitely helps to leverage existing customers, based on the tremendous returns that you mentioned. It’s important for green, sustainable businesses to be transparent, accessible, and straightforward to customers and their target audiences. Treating customers well and developing a level of trust through your marketing and sales efforts is clearly invaluable for businesses, especially the small businesses that we serve here at COSE.

    – Tim Kovach
    Product Coordinator for Energy at COSE
    http://www.cose.org/blog
    http://www.twitter.com/COSEenergy

  2. Millicent.knows says:

    Marcal is the biggest air and water polluter in the state of New Jersey. They have been fined almost a billion dollars by the EPA, and do much more harm than good. They filed Chapter 11 to avoid paying for the clean up, and also used it as an opportunity to break their union contract. Nice guys, huh? Then when they emerged from bankruptcy, they painted themselves green. For them to claim to be a green, eco-friendly company is a joke, as well as a lie.

  3. @Tim, glad it resonated with you, and thanks for opening the dialog.

    @Millicent, I’m aware of Marcal’s issues with water pollution–but the settlement was $3 million, far from a billion, and it had to do with issues under the previous management team. I haven’t found any information that the pollution is continuing. Papermaking is not a clean business, and as far as I can tell, Marcal has cleaned up its act as much as any of its competitors. Still, I know some in NJ continue to have issues with them. But for now, I’m willing to grant the possibility that the new management team is genuinely committed to the environment–and it’s certain that the company understands the marketing advantages and wouldn’t want to jeopardize that by actively violating pollution standards.

    I can’t speak on the labor issue you raise–but as a union member, I’d like to see documentation.
    can you supply any?

  4. May says:

    Hi Shel Horowitz,

    Thank you for that wonderful post.Green products is such an eco friendly items that is why you get too tones of new clients.

    Cheers,
    May

Trackbacks

  1. […] One type of green authority site that may be especially popular, and profitable, in the coming years is a green social shopping network. Social shopping networks such as ThisNext, Polyvore, and Kaboodle typically combine features such as wishlists, social bookmarking, and user-curated collections that allow members to save and review favorite products, browse other members’ collections, create lists or galleries of products around a certain theme, and share their activity on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. With ethical consumer spending growing by double digits in many states and countries and many green consumers becoming increasingly savvy about “greenwashing” and other dishonest marketing tactics, the time is ripe for an eco-friendly social shopping and recommendations network offering information and personalized recommendations to green consumers. […]

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