In a 2015 Nielsen study, 72% of Millenials reported a willingness to pay more for products and services that come from companies demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, a jump from 55% in 2014, with Boomers coming in at a significant 51%. But due to a lack of a tangible return on their sustainability-driven purchasing behaviors, turning attitude into action largely remains a challenge. How do we close the “green-gap” and reward customers for doing the right thing?
Standard marketing says that functional, emotional, and social benefits are types of values consumers look for when buying a product. In addition to cost, performance and credibility are prohibitive barriers to sustainable purchases and habits. To market sustainability in a successful way, consumers must see sustainable products as comparable or exceeding standard market products in one, or ideally all, of these value benefit areas.
Colgate-Palmolive, for example, is one of TerraCycle’s largest key partners with a multi-fold commitment to sustainability. Regardless of brand, Colgate allows all oral care products and packaging to be recycled through their sponsorship of the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program, empowering their consumers to collect these plastics on a national scale. Further, Colgate helps consumers do good for their community through the annual Recycled Playground Challenge, in which Colgate donates a playground made of recycled oral care waste collected through the recycling program to the school that garners the most ‘Playground Credits’ in the contest. This type of sustainable marketing rewards the consumer and creates an investment in the company as a patron of their products, and a patron for a charitable cause.
Another TerraCycle program sponsor, Garnier, gets personal with their sustainability marketing. “It's up to you to decide where the garden will grow,” speaks directly to the consumer on the Garnier Green Garden Giveaway page. “Your participation is needed to help choose the most deserving community organization to receive the Green Garden.” Emotional and social value benefits are prevalent here, as the activation plays to emotional sensibilities and allows the consumer to make a social statement about by voting for the underserved community organization they think would most benefit from a garden.
The challenge for the consumer (and businesses, in larger sense) has long been a question of what they can do for sustainability, rather than showing what sustainability can do for them. It is possible to reap real, tangible rewards for doing the right thing when companies like Colgate and Garnier sponsor and administrate initiatives that call upon the consumer to do more than just buy their product, but get involved with doing something good for their community. The feel-good notion of giving back just might close the values-action gap.