Developing an environmentally focused product or service can sometimes lead to companies restricting their potential customer base.
While it is vital to get an initial foothold in the green and ethical sphere where consumers and businesses are actively looking for the solutions you offer, to reach more people and make more of a difference, the mass market has to be pursued.
When it is time for your company to take this step, you will undoubtedly face some resistance and this resistance might take many forms but we will tackle four of the most common in this article.
1. The Initial Cost Is Too High
More than anything else, money is the biggest hurdle to overcome when trying to take a green leaning product to the mass market. Unless your company has managed to buck the trend with prices comparative to those of your mainstream competitors, you will likely have people tell you that they can get the same thing cheaper elsewhere.
Your job is to convince them that they can’t.
Value Not Price
The best way to achieve this is to remove the focus on price and replace it with that of value because people will always spend more money if they believe they are getting more value.
Sometimes an initial investment can yield savings in the future and it is this value that you need to focus on. LED lightbulbs are a good example because while they are considerably more expensive at the time of purchase, they actually pay for themselves many times over in the savings made on energy bills and replacement bulbs.
Another problem is that even when there are long term benefits, not everyone can afford the one time cost. A way to combat this is to offer your customers a payment plan over a number of weeks or months.
The UK government has setup something along these lines called The Green Deal where homeowners can make energy saving improvements to their home and then pay for them through the savings achieved on their energy bills to avoid the initial cost.
Implementation is going to be something that you have to consider though and a balance between your cash flow and that of your customer needs to be reached.
2. The Product Is Inferior
Some potential customers will insist that many eco products are just not comparable to their everyday counterpart in terms of quality and because of this they are reluctant to even try new things.
If you have the utmost confidence in your product then there is an easy way to overcome this problem: a strong money back guarantee.
If you can get people to try your product without any risk on their part they are more likely to do so and a money back guarantee is an ideal way of achieving this. Offer a 60 or 90 day no quibbles money back guarantee and you’ll find more people will be inclined to try it and more often than not they will not ask for a refund. On the occasions where people do want their money back, they are most likely more price conscious than anything else and are probably not going to be ideal long term customers anyway.
If your product is something that lends itself to free samples then this too is a great way to get people to try it and get acquainted with your brand. Eco cleaning companies such as Ecover favour this approach because unit costs are very low but long term benefits are great – think about how little you switch washing powders?
There are many times where the environmentally friendly option is actually the superior product and educating the mass market to this point is effectively building value in their eyes.
A simple example is that of bamboo clothing, specifically socks. Because of its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, bamboo is a fibre which is actually odour resistant and it is super breathable too which makes it the ideal material for socks. But are people aware of this? You can be assured that they are not, but with a little bit of education they could be.
3. New Technology Is Unproven Or Untested
If you are bringing a product to market that involves a new technology which is largely unproven in real life situations then you might find many consumers unwilling to try it.
While there are a small group of people who are early adopters, the majority tend to be followers – only ready to consider these technologies once they are proven to work and provide the benefits stated by the manufacturers.
One option, then, is to give your product away to a group of normal (even sceptical) people to test in their own lives, and then have them record their findings and experiences. These people should be from your exact target market as this makes their testimonials even more powerful and they should address any major concerns that are likely to arise among potential customers.
Combine real life testimonials with scientific verification of the performance of your product and you’ve got the makings of some potent marketing materials.
4. The Benefit To The Environment Is Immeasurable
If you are marketing your product on its environmental credentials, customers are going to want to know what the actual benefits to the environment are but it can be difficult and/or expensive to calculate precise values for this.
For example, if you want to quote CO2 savings over a traditional product then it goes without saying that you need to know the emissions for both products. Getting this information can be extremely challenging but search engines can help; there is a plethora of research that has already been carried out that may be applied to your situation but be sure to check that it is recent and hasn’t otherwise been superseded by subsequent findings.
Whether you choose to use academic research or scientific measurement on which to base your claims, ensure that they are the right claims to be making. For instance, if your product is primarily designed to reduce waste then it would seem strange to market it based on emission data.
A green product or service is only ever going to make a noticeable impact on climate change if it can reach a wider consumer audience. Getting your green product into the lives and homes of this more general population is something that requires a different approach but by baring these points in mind, you’ll stand a better chance of achieving it.
Eco stamp image via shutterstock