Feature Article - March/April 2008

Green Motivations

Incorporating Eco-Friendly Merchandise Into Your Program

By Emily Tipping

A Rising Consumer Consciousness

According to the BBMG Conscious Consumer Report, which was conducted by branding and marketing agency BBMG in conjunction with research partners Global Strategy Group and Bagatto, nearly nine out of 10 Americans claim that the words "conscious consumer" describe them well. The report, which combined ethnographic research in three U.S. markets with a national survey of more than 2,000 adults to learn how companies can reach, inspire and motivate modern consumers, revealed that "conscious consumers" are more likely to buy from companies that manufacture energy-efficient products, promote health and safety benefits, support fair labor and trade practices, and commit to environmentally friendly practices, if the products are of equal quality and price.

"Americans think before they buy," according to Jefrey Pollock, president of Global Strategy Group. "Our poll reveals that many consumers are evaluating the social and economic impact of their purchases on the world in which they live. They tend to prefer to buy from companies that reflect their values and are increasingly likely to buy from companies that demonstrate they are good for the people and the planet."

Who are these conscious consumers? Who is truly motivated to go green?

A lot of people are motivated by environmentally friendly brands and products, according to Dana Slockbower, director of marketing for Rymax Marketing Services Inc., one of the largest manufacturer's representatives in the incentive industry, which has helped put together environmentally friendly incentive and reward programs for many of its clients. "Eight in 10 people believe it's important to buy from green companies and will spend more to do that."

While Generation X and Generation Y seem to be the demographic group most motivated by the green message, Slockbower said such programs also reach across age groups and demographic boundaries to motivate people from all walks of life.

"[Generation X and Generation Y are] very aware," she said. "We're also seeing that anyone in a big health craze—an outdoorsman, someone who's into working out, the healthy-body-mind-and-soul type of person—are very big on eco-friendly initiatives."

But the impact of your eco-friendly motivation plan doesn't end with these groups. "With global warming being so prevalent in the news, it's motivating people to go toward this type of lifestyle," Slockbower added. "The North American youth culture between 13 and 25 years old is the most involved in doing philanthropy activities and is the most environmentally conscious group in this world. They may not be in the workforce yet, but their parents may be working in your recognition program, and their kids are definitely influencing them."

Many of Rymax's corporate gifts and rewards clients are directly asking for help making their programs more environmentally friendly, Slockbower added. "They say, 'We want green brands. We want green products. And we're OK if it's not as great a margin,'" she said. "A lot of event planners also want green products or environmentally friendly gifts to hand out at various meetings."

But the impact is also being felt elsewhere, as companies large and small look to make their own operations more environmentally friendly. With these messages coming from the top—and with demand coming from your recipients—it simply makes sense to incorporate a green message into your motivation plan.