Does going green + Boomers mean you’re in the green?

Recycle Green, green, green.  Everywhere you look.  You’ve got green in all the candidate’s speeches, Al won the Nobel Prize and hybrids are flying out of dealerships.

Should you be pushing the green aspects of your products or services (assuming there are some)? 

Several studies released in the last month or so suggest that it might be in your bottom line’s best interest.  According to a USA Today story, a study done by Deloitte suggests that 1 in 5 consumers planned on buying more earth friendly items this holiday season. 

At 79 million, the Boomers rule the buying word.  AARP also recently released data on this topic.  According to their research, over half (40 million) Boomers consider themselves green.

Of course — time will tell.  People saying that they’re green and behaving with their wallet are two very different things.  I am sure both Deloitte and AARP did a very thorough and professional job on their research.  But the cynic in me also thinks that when asked by a researcher — do you recycle or are you more likely to buy a product because it is environmentally friendly — most people would be embarrassed to admit they are lazy consumers who are willing to contribute to the decline of the Earth rather than toss their cans in the recycle container.   I mean really — which answer would you feel better about giving?

Treehugger.com suggests that 2008 is the year where green is the new everything.  On the flip side, Joel Makower (author of The Green Consumer) points out that 16 years after the publication of his book — we still do not have a significant number of green products that are mass produced.

What do you think?   Will this be a competitive advantage for the companies that can capture this wave?  Have you considered adding or spotlighting a green aspect of your offerings?

Or, as a consumer — where do you stand on this issue?

13 comments on “Does going green + Boomers mean you’re in the green?

  1. Bill Zahren says:

    The reason the green wave is upon us is only partly due to heightened awareness of environmental peril. That alone will motivate a lot of us to buy green goods, but not the huge mass. The green tide started building when price of energy got high enough that investing in energy-efficiency made great financial sense. And profit/savings motivation is the most powerful force in the American universe. The reason hybrid cars are flying off the lots isn’t because we’re all friends of the earth (although some of us are). It’s because gas costs $3 and the hybrid technology price came down to within sight. Goods made with recycled paper didn’t sell well until they cost about the same or less than non-recycled goods. So environmentalists should actually cheer when energy and natural resources prices go higher and higher, because it motivates people to live greener and greener. I say whatever gets us to live more earth friendly, bring it on.

  2. The Kaiser says:

    Good stuff Drew. I’d also be interested in finding out what the American take is on this subject.

    I suspect that “green” is a fad – and is being cynically misused by organisations AND marketers to make a quick dollar. The Green Dollar.

    That we have to change our attitude to the environment goes without question but this is where marketing and the people that DO marketing hit a barrier. They would have to DO something about it – and not just talk about maybe doing something.

  3. Lewis Green says:

    Drew (and Kaiser):

    Being on the leading edge of the Boomers (meaning I’m in my 6th decade), I do not believe it to be a fad. I say that because it was a fad in the ’70s, when my generation (Gore’s gen.) made a big deal about it. But there weren’t many of us and there were lots who believe we were fanatics (we were), and few will follow fanaticism.

    Today, it’s different. Science supports the necessity for going green and not only are Boomers in large number supporting the idea, so is the generation entering today’s workforce, which have much more in common with Boomers than either Gen X or Y.

  4. Bill,

    So true — we are motivated by our wallet. So, would you predict that if gas prices went down, the sale of hybrids would go down too?

    Or, now that the gas crisis put them on our radar — you can’t take them back off?

    Drew

  5. Marcus,

    I am sure for some, green is a fad that they are taking full advantage of — while the picking is good.

    But, there’s a growing movement of influencers who I believe wholeheartedly believe that it is their responsibility to change the world, one choice at a time.

    The question is…which way will the pendulum swing?

    Drew

  6. Lewis,

    I think you’re right. In the 60’s and 70’s — that was hippie talk. Today, those hippies are boomers with lots of money and influence.

    What seemed like radical thinking back then seems very close to mainstream today. But…I do wonder if it’s become the cause of the time and will lose steam before real change can be made.

    Drew

  7. Bill Zahren says:

    Drew:

    Unfortunately, hybrid sales so far have risen and fallen on the gas price. If gas was magically $2 a gallon tomorrow, we’d probably be back in SUV-land. But I don’t discount the social pressure building to live greener. Ironically, one of the reasons Toyota and Honda are putting the hurt on American companies is they anticipated the market trend toward more fuel-efficient cars and were there when it happened.

  8. Lewis Green says:

    Drew and Bill,

    I fear that we may lose interest in Green but am hopeful we will not. As for hybrids, here is my take in a post I launched today:

    Hybrids get greater gas mileage but during recharging cycles, they spew carbon into the skies, as power needed to recharge the batteries probably comes from a plant burning coal or petroleum sources, which make up a large majority of the energy sources feeding U.S. power plants. (http://lgbusinesssolutions.typepad.com/solutions_to_grow_your_bu/2008/01/what-size-is-yo.html)

  9. Bill and Lewis,

    It’s an interesting discussion — thank you. I think the reality is people are willing to care about the environment when it also saves them money or is convenient.

    People who will spend more and inconvenience themselves are still a small minority, I think.

    Drew

  10. ‘Green’ is like the word ‘organic’, subjective and will be exploited to help sell products. People like simplicity; if marketing blurs out the details, we won’t necessarily have better products or service. Education and balanced decision-making are important. Lewis and I have covered this line of thinking in recent posts.

    I think the greater danger is to treat this as simple and fashionable affair.

  11. Going green of course can’t be a bad thing. I’ve recently moved to a city which has a recycling program in place and with that, I’ve been recycling, replacing light bulbs with energy savers and reusing my ink cartridges in order to reduce my carbon footprint. I’ve recently introduced this on my website and I figure it can’t hurt but perhaps increase business.

  12. Melinda,

    I don’t think going green can hurt your business, but the question is — will it help?

    You’ll have to let us know how mentioning it on your site works.

    Drew

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