The key to environmentally friendly products’ desirability? Deemphasize the green.

Selling green productsIt turns out that one key to the success of marketing so-called “green” products is actually to deemphasize the environmental messaging — at least when targeting consumers in the United States.

According to a number of surveys conducted by branding and marketing communications firm Landor, American consumers value possessing “green” attributes the least valuable of a series of brand attributes studied.

This despite years of social engineers and marketers of environmentally friendly brands attempting to “educate” consumers on environmental consciousness and the importance of sustainability.

At this point, it’s probably better for products to promote themselves based on other attributes besides “green” attributes … or at least to stop leading with that argument.

Instead, what are the values that resonate the most with American consumers?  According to Ted Page, a principal at content marketing firm Captains of Industry, there are three in particular — none of them having much to do with environmental issues — at least on the face of it:

  • Freedom
  • Independence
  • Saving money

But for green products, it’s possible to tie everything up in a nice bow by being able to lay claim all three of these attributes as brand attributes while not compromising the environment, either.

Nest Learning ThermostatAn example of this message strategy in action is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which promises saving energy in the context of achieving increased home efficiency, automated temperature management and lower energy bills.  The “green positioning” is nice — but it’s the other product attributes that really hit pay-dirt.

Tesla logoAnother example is Tesla electric automobiles.  Tesla is promoting the performance of its high-torque electric engine as superior to other sports cars manufactured by BMW, Lexus and Audi.

The fact that Tesla’s high-performance engine happens to be emissions-free is just icing on the cake.

Thanks in part to this messaging platform, sales of the Tesla Model S auto now outstrip those of the Mercedes S-Class, Lexus LS, BMW 7-Series, Porsche Panorama and the Audi AB.

One has to wonder if this would had happened had Tesla chose to lead with “green” messaging instead.

It would be nice to think so, but … probably not.

One thought on “The key to environmentally friendly products’ desirability? Deemphasize the green.

  1. Agreed: A green product needs to live up to its title! I don’t mind green labeling, but I also want the product to be of good quality. Thanks for sharing!

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