Guest Column - May/June 2010

The Eco-Incentive Revolution

By Dana LaSalvia, CRP


oing green is not only good for the environment—it's good for business, too. In recent years, the incentive market has seen a growing concern for the environment, and consumers, retailers and government agencies alike are paying attention and responding to this ever-growing mainstream initiative.

In response to this global green movement, a new niche of green consumers has evolved and now is growing at a rapid rate, becoming a very lucrative target market. Incentive firms need to know who these consumers are and what drives their behavior.

According to the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), the United States' green marketplace is predicted to reach $420 billion by 2010 and $845 billion by 2015. This market share will translate into revenue for smart incentive houses that offer eco-friendly brands. And when you partner with an incentive provider to ensure your merchandise rewards are more environmentally friendly, you also will capitalize on that success.

In today's marketplace, corporate social responsibility plays a major role in the green movement. Companies are reacting to this movement by implementing business practices that lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions. From recycling to sustainable packaging, and more, businesses are implementing green practices in their daily operations. Consumers admire these green business practices and have a high demand for eco-friendly products. According to a recent study by Green Seal, a Washington-based independent nonprofit product certification organization, four out of five people say they are still buying green products and services today, which actually can cost more, even in the midst of a recession.

It Pays to Go Green

Organizations and consumers alike have recognized the need to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Redemption patterns in the incentive industry tend to mimic consumer buying behaviors in the retail environment, and, therefore, create a demand for green rewards. Offering green products within an incentive program fulfills a sense of reward as well as personal satisfaction for contributing to a greater cause.

Gaiam, a Boulder, Colo.-based company that specializes in healthy living products, invites its customers to live consciously and in harmony with the environment. From yoga and fitness DVDs to nontoxic cleaners, Gaiam offers eco-friendly, organic products, and healthy living solutions.

Gaiam's missions statement sums up its social and environmental responsibility: "Gaiam was founded to make a difference in the world by educating people about lifestyle choices that affect personal development, wellness and environmental responsibility. We began as a lifestyle media company with a vision that, given a choice, people would choose a lifestyle that is health and life enhancing—for themselves, their families and the earth."