Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Guardian Green Consumer Segmentation

Monday morning I went to a presentation and panel discussion of new research from the Guardian on the audience for sustainable products and brands. If you want more details do email Carrina(DOT)Gaffney(AT)

The centerpiece was a segmentation into five groups based upon green attitudes, knowledge and behaviour:

26% Onlookers
Recognise the issue, but tend to dismiss it as overhyped, confused, someone else's responsibility

35% conveniently conscious
Moderate concerns, feel guilty, but a secondary consideration in their decisions, will buy green when there is no trade-off or sacrifice

31% positive choosers
View the problems as serious, looking to broaden their behaviour, adopting public transport, local foods, willing to pay Moe or make green the primary factor

4% vocal activists
Highly engaged
Active complainers about companies green responsibilities

4% principled pioneers
The ethical consumers, quietly getting on with alternative energy and other deep green measures

One surprising stat from today was that depending on how broad a set of keywords you use,ethical and environmental advertising accounts for only £75-136m in ad spend. That's not a lot more than GE alone is spending in the US. When the big budgets from green innovations (for instance the home energy and heating, greener cars, low impact local grocery delivery) arrive, you have to feel that agencies will sit up and take a lot more notice.

There was a long silence when the panel was asked to name a great ad for a green product or announcement (someone mentioned greenpeace). I've actually got 7 or so nice ones to show on thursday at channel 4, but mostly from other countries. Would be an interesting discussion to pursue here at some point, I dont mind sharing the C4 presentation but as its mostly video its a beast. I think channel 4 may be hosting it on their site (minus one film I promoised not to 'release' as its out soon with, but it would still be a 60meg download.

The other thing that seemed a confusion was the idea that green marketing somehow might rest on these sorts of consumer demand statistics. Russell Davies and I were talking afterwards about this. If days showed that only a minority of people were deeply committed to buying tricycles, you wouldn't launch a tricycle. But green is coming like it or not, because of regulation, risk and responsibility. That bits not up for debate. The question is what position to take when that change front sweeps through your industry: what are the many threats and opportunities. I think there is a consensus growing that the marketing priority is conceptual innovation not credentials communication. Because its such a confused issue clear, relevant and inspiring new product, service agnd brand ideas will win.


Luke Tipping - Working at a WPP agency. said...

Have to say that I was very disappointed with The Guardian seminar on Monday.

Despite the poor delivery, the content was poor, too.

The segmentation is great if you work on a brand that is a laggard in this space.
For those of us working on brands that were talking about sustainability a long time ago, I'm sure we have more comprehensive segmentations and consumer insights.

Furthermore, category insights (i.e. 'green' comms investment, and column inches using Thomson) are something that planners should have as first nature.

On the whole, a great disparity between what we come to expect from The Guardian editorially, and that of the quality of insight from the commercial team.

Looking forward to the C4 seminar on Thursday. There still seems to no media owner who is pioneering this space (yet)…

John Grant said...

I didnt think it was that bad.

It's a fair point about it being aimed at the laggards; not just the client brands, but also laggards in the audience who were pretty well in evidence (Questions along the lines of "lets not kid ourselves that advertising is for anything other than selling more stuff and making lots of money" sort - NB I dont disagree ads should make a return its more the "being a bit of a cynic myself" tone).

Perhaps they should have done a segmented range of seminar events, with the green leaders getting a very different experience to the laggards?!

If you work with a brand that's taken a lead on sustainability you probably do have a lot of much more fine scale and relevant research on key segments, what works and why. Having said which if you are a truly green business the challenge is often being seen as 'proper' and 'normal' rather than making some extravagent green claims anyway. Brands like Green & Black or Innocent have much bigger ambitions than sticking to an existing green lifestyle niche which they already dominate; they are gunning for the mainstream premium sectors in their respective markets.

The Guardian is one to watch on the green front, editorially and commercially. I think they really 'get it' compared to most media owners I have met. Because they believe in it.

C4 event will of course be great (declaration of interest - I'm speaking) - see you down there!), but editorially they have a shockingly poor reputation (only slightly short of Fox news) since their "Climate Change Swindle" programme & similar. The broadcaster who is far out in front on all this is BSkyB; proving just like the excellent quality of life group report a few weeks ago that the liberals dont have a monopoly on this issue by any means.

Ben Rowe said...

Unfortunately companies still don't get the fact that a sustainability platform is really not an option anymore.

I'm currently doing some work with an energy company at the moment, and finding it very frustrating that they are avoiding a green energy strategy because their target market aren't demanding it.

Within the next few years this will change. We are now seeing unprecedented global agreement on the need to reduce emissions, and so green energy is the next thing. It's curtains for energy companies that can't see this.

Same for any industry. Brands like innocent, Green and blacks and anyone else taking a green stance are giving themselves a huge head start. One that will be difficult for the laggards to catch up to.

Luke Tipping said...

Great stuff today, John.

Key 'nuggets' for me were that 'green isn't about selling, it's about sharing'. We hear alot about deferred responsibility, which is why shared responsibility is crucial in inducing a behavioural change. Ads are great in bringing about feelings of togetherness, yet I think that it will be social networking and experiential comms that are the most effective in actually getting people to 'do'. Experiential of course has the dual benefit of getting people to experiment with new behaviours and demonstrating to a wider audience, too.

'Mythologise The New' is also a lovely abstraction. I'm not sure if I understand it, yet I presume it's line of thought is similar to that article that you referenced here?

I also really enjoyed the Carbon Trust presentation. A massive insight for me was that 60% of consumers want more POS information on Climate Change (Globescan, 2007). It seems that a lot of FMCG brands e.g. Walkers are embracing this, yet in light of the debate in this week's Marketing with regards to 'Warning' messages on car ads, I wonder whether consumers would embrace this too? 'Warning' sounds a little negative, yet an indication of CO2 effeciency may be something that the manufacturers come around too...

John Grant said...

I enjoyed today too, I thought Greg Nugent was especially brilliant, but pretty much all the presentations were v interesting and i have been to quite a few green events as you can imagine.

Luke Tipping said...

He was great. He had real passion too, which made everybody listen!

Ben said...

I thought last Monday was interesting too. Nice to see that the necessary tools and research are having value attributed to them.

Following your post John, I agree that the key to success in 'Green' is about examining conceptual innovation, not credentials communication. If a brand can use product development to contribute to green then this becomes the communication itself too. (In my case I am trying to go down this route with a consumer electronics client.) The challenge as I am finding is that to do this you need to effect a fundamental a fundamental change in business practice (easy to say, hard to do), and try to convince legions of internal and inter agency stakeholders. Fingers crossed, watch this space!