Drivers of preference: Why consumers buy green

This is a selection of excerpts from a Huffington Post article. The orginal post is by Richard Seireeni Brand, Architect, and author of “The Gort Cloud: The Invisible Force Powering Today’s Most Visible Green Brands.”

It’s often not clear why people buy the things they do. This is particularly true when it comes to choosing sustainable and/or socially responsible products. Saving the planet or supporting fair trade is never the only driver of consumer choice — an insight that becomes especially clear when choices are made between competing green products.

So, what is a ‘driver of preference’?

There may be many product characteristics that influence consumer choice: special features, performance, design, brand image, price, availability, etc. However, some of the talking points that are so highly valued by product makers are often dismissed by customers as mere table stakes – the qualities needed to simply get in the game. This is becoming increasingly true for green products. Many of today’s enlightened consumers expect their products to be green. For the marketer of green products, understanding what product qualities actually causes a consumer to open his or her wallet requires research and an open mind. These often-inscrutable qualities that cause someone to pick this over that are ‘drivers of preference’.

Many marketers of products and services have been wondering out loud if green still makes a difference during such trying times. Several market studies, including those published by the Mintel and Cone market research groups, have attempted to answer these questions; however, it should be reassuring to know that green represents only one part of a product’s appeal and is usually not the primary driver of preference. Green alone is not likely to make a product successful; on the other hand, not going green can actually be harmful to sales in the long run. This is why identification of the true drivers of consumer preference is so critical to overcoming green fatigue and a crowded green marketplace.

For further reading and a great list of potential drivers for green products and services, read the 2010 Trendwatching brief, “Eco-Bounty“.

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