Eco-friendly products. Recycled materials. The Green movement. Sustainability. These
terms are being bandied about around the world by consumers and businesses alike. While the Green movement may have been perceived as a fad a decade ago, most businesses are starting to take notice of this movement and its ever-growing population of interested consumers. Eco-friendliness and sustainability are not just fads any longer. They represent real, powerful, and permanent changes to global business.
For the final word on the eco-friendly product movement and its lasting effects on global business, it’s logical to consult an eco-friendly blog like the ever-popular GreenBiz.com. In an October article, Marc Major wrote about the sustainability movement and questioned whether it would be a permanent fixture in the economy or a fleeting trend that would eventually be put to rest. By evaluating the stance of major retailers throughout the world, Major came to a common conclusion: the eco-friendly product movement is powerful and lasting, and businesses that want to thrive in today’s economy must find a way to jump on the bandwagon.
Understanding the reasoning behind this explosive trend and its lasting effects on economy and commerce is the first step in figuring out how to join the movement and appeal to its vocal advocates. Here are just a few reasons why eco-friendliness and sustainability are here to stay.
Sustainability and Green Thinking are Generational
First, it’s important to recognize that “green” thinking is a result of changing generational values. A decade ago, baby boomers represented the largest percentage of the population. That generation of consumers valued savings, deals, instant gratification, simplicity, and ease of use. Bigger and better were the terms used to convince a baby boomer that a new product was one worth buying. Fast and simple were the words used to convince a baby boomer to invest in a business’s service. The new generations, commonly referred to as X and Y, however, are not as concerned with fast, simple, cheap, and big.
For the younger generations, activism and change are the driving force behind a huge percentage of consumer decisions. Younger generations are concerned about the environment. This may have started when kindergarten teachers started pounding the three “R’s” into the malleable brains of children: reduce, reuse, recycle. Whatever the underlying reason, the up and coming generation of consumers is hugely concerned with sustainability. Because this is a generational trend and not a traditional fad, businesses can expect the eco-friendly product movement to stick around at least until Generation Y has stopped consuming.
Green Production is Actually Cheaper
Another reason why the eco-friendly product movement may be here to stay is that green production is actually cheaper and more cost-effective in many instances. This may seem like an impossibility, but countless studies in operational costs, production costs, and manufacturing costs have shown that going the Green route is a cheaper way to get products off the conveyor belts and onto the shelves. Businesses may boast a commitment to ecological change and preservation, but the cheaper bottom line is often the underlying reason for eco-friendly production. If a business can save money and also appeal to ecologically conscious consumers, it will.
Eco-Friendliness May be a Real Necessity
Here’s a reason for the Green movement’s permanence that isn’t often discussed: the Green movement may actually be a real necessity for the health of this earth as a whole. Despite conflicting studies and arguments in governments around the world, the environment of earth isn’t getting any better or cleaner as humanity continues to grow and expand. Natural resources are disappearing from the surface of the earth. Many of these natural resources are irreplaceable or take hundreds of years to regenerate. Pollution is at an all-time high even with renewed efforts to reduce emissions and waste from some of the biggest manufacturing factories in the world. Landfills are literally piling up at an alarming rate, and huge expanses of land are being filled in a matter of days by excessive consumption and waste.
The Green movement may be here to stay simply because the human population will be unable to survive without it. By reducing the consumption of finite resources, reusing products that have already been made, and committing to create healthier, safer products without harsh chemicals and additives, we can help to turn a destructive trend around. It doesn’t matter if global warming is a real threat to human survival or not; if the general population believes that the earth is in immediate danger, the eco-friendly product movement won’t just continue to grow. It will explode.
Businesses Need an Edge to Compete
Another reason why the eco-friendly product movement is so powerful is the edge that it provides businesses in the here and now. Yes, in ten years, the “green” label on products may come to be expected and second nature to consumers. For now, though, businesses that are able to legally classify their products as eco-friendly, sustainable, or green are attracting the attention of consumers.
As far as the green movement is concerned, there are three basic classes of customers. The first class of customers actually demand green, eco-friendly products. These are the consumers that will not purchase disposable cups and plates. These are the consumers that only invest in products made from recycled materials. Words like organic, green, and sustainable are not just interesting to this class of consumers. They are necessities.
The second class of consumers, which is considered by many to be the fastest growing consumer group, factors sustainability into the decision-making process. Consumers who fall into this class of buyers will actively look for businesses that use eco-friendly materials in production. They don’t, however, strictly limit themselves to purchasing only items that are eco-friendly.
The final consumer group may not actively seek out businesses that use eco-friendly products and materials, but they are influenced by sustainability buzz words. This group of consumers will stare at a display of cleaning products and inevitably choose the “greenest” looking product on the shelf.
These three consumer groups constitute one of the biggest consumer percentages on the market. Businesses that want to gain an edge over their competitors would do well to incorporate green thinking into their core values. In the next few years, a business may be rendered totally unable to compete in the market unless sustainability and eco-friendliness are amongst its basic principles of operation.