Sustainable Innovation

Green products also attractive to people with a material orientation

Some people doubt about the good intentions of companies selling ‘sustainable’ products. However, under certain conditions they still find green products attractive and are happy to buy green products. How come ?

Robbert Elderenbosch and David Wijland, of the Marketing Management Master at the Nyenrode Business University in The Netherlands, studied the buying intentions of different consumer groups related to products with sustainable claims. 

Consumers that are intellectually oriented buy green products because they are really searching for product advantages related to society and environment. Other consumers are more materially oriented and can be sceptical about sustainable claims of suppliers.

Would it be possible to persuade mainstream customers, and notably the materially oriented, to buy green products ? The answer is : Yes.

Based on case studies with propositions for a new (Calvé) mayonaise, Elderenbosch and Wijland found that even sceptical consumers focussing on material advantages, are willing to buy products with sustainable advantages under the following condition :

First functional and personal advantages should be communicated (such as healthier, more simple, more effective), secondly the sustainable aspects (lower energie consumption, less toxic, less packaging).

Communication about ‘traditions’ and ‘authenticy’ related to products tends to be  connected with the sustainability claims and are positively perceived for some consumer groups. 

Confidence also grows when additional information is offered on specific websites to explore the sustainability claims that are made.

To conclude : It is possible to develop products with sustainability advantages ánd reach mainstream markets.  Best would be communicate first about the personal, cost and functional benefits and secondly (and shortly) about the sustainability advantages – possibly with a link to a website for further details.

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