New Report by Yale Finds “Nine Types of Americans” on Environmental Issues; Implications for “Green Marketing”

A recent report by Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, in association with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, examined American public opinion on environmental issues and found “nine types” of people, ranging from “liberal greens” to “homebodies” to “conservative browns” (see graphic below). The findings in this report are fascinating on a number of levels, including with regard to how best clean energy communicators can communicate with people of widely differing perspectives. As the report states, those differences include views on “environmental protection, what the government’s role should be in regulating it, whether an environmental crisis exists, how individuals see themselves in relation to nature, and how individuals respond when scientific and religious explanations conflict.”

This brings us back to the superb research done by Cathy L. Hartman and Edwin R. Stafford of Utah State University on “green marketing myopia” and breaking out of the “green market niche.” Given that only about one-third of Americans fall strongly into the “green” camp, according to Yale University’s latest report, the question yet again is how to broaden the appeal of “green” products and services — including solar, wind, energy efficiency, microgrids, etc. — to the other two-thirds of Americans? According to Hartman and Stafford, that involves emphasizing the “green” product’s positive attributes in areas such as:

  • “cost and energy savings”
  • “convenience”
  • “health and safety”
  • “better performance”
  • “status and prestige”
  • “bundling” (“adding consumer value to greener products”)
  • “appealing to youth” by emphasizing the cool things you can do with LED lighting (e.g, “Users can also tap photographic scenes, including a sunrise, a beach, and a sunny Greek garden, all of which can be mimicked by the LEDs.”)

If your business or organization is in the renewable energy space, these marketing insights can translate to business results.

“Today, it’s about smarter marketing – moving beyond the demographics of your target market to really understanding the psychographics behind each persona – learning the varying values, behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles of a niche, green audience,” explains Sarah Lippincott, Digital and Content Creation Manager at Tigercomm.

Lippincott adds that conducting regular surveys, focus groups and polls will help marketers stay aligned with their key customers’ evolving interests, priorities and buying habits over time as they age or make lifestyle changes. Cleantech is an innovative, broad-spectrum industry  — now more than ever — and green brands will need to pump up their creative muscle and use analytics to reach, engage and influence consumers. As Lippincott puts it, “This survey reaffirms that research should be a key building block – in fact, the foundation – of a business’ marketing plan.

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