Will Product Samples Be Key to Consumers Switch to Eco-Friendly Alternatives? Abe's Market Hopes So.

Abe's Market/Screen capture

I don't always buy the "green" products. Gasp! It's true. When it comes to the items I buy and use on a regular basis - dish soap, laundry detergent, household cleaners, etc. or pantry staples like local honey, real peanut butter or maple syrup, etc. - I always buy the eco-friendly alternatives. I know where I can find them locally and make a point to not buy anything else. But while I am proud to do many things in the eco-friendly way, the reality is that healthier, eco-friendlier products often cost more and can be harder to find locally. These factors can be a big deterrent to seeking out better alternatives.

I got to thinking about all this after hearing about an interesting idea from the online retailer of natural products, Abe's Market. Starting today, AbesMarket.com will be offering a Discovery Natural testing program for folks to try out some eco-friendlier products. Shoppers will be able to pick three product samples for $5, which includes shipping and a $5 coupon. Since people may be reluctant to dive in and switch to a more expensive product, Abe's hopes the testing program gets people to step outside their routines and give healthier products a shot.

I am reluctant to encourage consumerism, but when you consider the idealistic idea behind conscious consumerism, this really is a smart idea for Abe's Market and these product sellers. Remember: the big picture belief behind buying eco-friendly products is that in the short term, we're doing less damage to ourselves and the environment by using the healthier products and in the longer term, we're "voting with our dollars" as the saying goes, which will eventually (we hope) tell the major product companies that this is where the demand is and they should clean up their product lines to ultimately lead to healthy, eco-friendly products being the norm. To that end, it is important for eco-friendly products to be successful in more categories than simply cleaning products or whatever it is most of us are already buying. Perhaps providing samples and getting these products into shoppers' hands will help tip the balance just a bit more towards our vision of healthy, sustainable products being standard and not just a costlier alternative for the thinking set.

What do you think? Will it work? I'll be interested in seeing how this concept advances.

Tags: Consumerism | Shopping