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How to help your clients become better consumers

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Green in their heart, dull in their actions … a new generation of half-green consumers with great ambition but little money is growing fast.

 

Consumers are largely in favour of ethical and responsible commercial products, but many still struggle to buy products according to their ambitions. Against all odds, consumerism anchored in environmental and social values is beneficial—and lucrative—for businesses.

 

Over the course of this article, we will observe different actions and methods of communication that will lead your clients toward a shopping experience that corresponds to their needs and ambitions.


Be the change you want to see in the world.


Ghandi said it first, and Volkswagen didn’t really get it.

 

The best way to engage your customers in an ethical journey is to try yourself first. Consumers are a herd, and as they mimic what’s around them, your company needs to set an example.

 

To be understood and supported, your company must first narrow its focus to a few significant actions relevant to the industry.

 

For example, when it comes to the production of manufactured goods, you could pay attention first to the components of the production line (the materials or geographic origins).

 

Services companies should rather focus on offering their own employees fair pay and promoting workplace happiness. In the food industry, waste management and product origin are rapidly becoming consumer hot topics and in cosmetics, consumers respond positively to products that are cruelty-free.

 

To this extent, Dogfooding is very efficient. Inspired by the idea of eating your dog’s food, this practice revolves around personally using your own products and services in order to directly confront their qualities and faults. It’s a game changer to communicate and bring along your customers in the cause you fight for.

 

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Use the Right Message to Convince Your Consumers

The best way to influence sustainable shopping behaviour is to avoid talking directly about sustainability. A product’s appeal is built on multiple overarching qualities—reducing it to being a mere ethical choice is counterproductive.

 

Survey your clients about what keeps them from shopping ethically. Often, they’re less willing to compromise convenience, lower prices or a memorable shopping experience.

 

Consumers are susceptible to the “little extras”. Present the ethical advantage as an “extra” to your product, as a little something that sets it apart from the rest.

 

To take it further, marketing discourse can be used as a lever to help transform your clients’ behaviours. There are three different approaches: functional, emotional and social. In a detailed report, BSR gave practical advice, and strong arguments, for how to maximize the impact of your sustainable discourse. Here are 15 of them:

 

1 — Functional:

  • A message focused on solutions gives more results than a message fixated on problems.
  • Utilizing statistics and numbers heightens the credibility and strength of the message.
  • You have to focus on what needs to be done, not why. You need to act.
  • Arguments rooted in efficiency, simplicity, and performance sell more than environmental arguments.
  • Comparing an ethical product with a standard product inspires consumers to shop more virtuously.

During a study observing the impact of different marketing messages displayed at a recycling station, this sign inspired the best recycling practices (20 percentage points higher than the control message). This visual aid focuses on solutions, provides a bit of data, and promotes gratitude to motivate consumers. Of all the tested marketing materials, this message was the clearest and most efficient.

 

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2 — Emotional:

  • A campaign centred on the benefits of ethical behaviour is more successful than one focused on guilt tripping.
  • A positive shopping experience and entertaining content [KH2] incite responsible consumerism.
  • Consumers are sensitive toward small actions that have big impact.
  • “Green” jargon is less efficient than everyday vocabulary.
  • Motivating consumers to try out a product is more effective than requiring commitment.

This image draws on the positive shopping experience: the message is incentivizing and playful. It produced a recycling rate 12.9 percentage points higher than the control scenario.

 

3 — Social:

  • Group activities promote ethical behaviour.
  • Third-party verification encourages virtuous behaviour (an association, a separate neutral party, friends, family, etc.).
  • Individual benefits are more likely to be noticed than collective ones.
  • The comments and opinions of other shoppers inspire action.
  • If the ethical behaviour provides social status, shoppers will be motivated to act.

Here, the message focuses on a sense of community. Recycling thus becomes an activity that benefits the city as well as the individual. The rate of recycling for this message was 16.9 points higher than the control scenario.

 

While consumers remain angry at their conscience, let’s participate in the peaceful resolution of this conflict. Your path to helping half-green customers is now paved with a great discourse and relevant actions. This road promises bright days ahead—for involved retailers and future generations alike.