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)guardian.co.uk
The centerpiece was a segmentation into five groups based upon green attitudes, knowledge and behaviour:
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
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 dothegreenthing.com), 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.