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Target groups identified among green consumers

By Sarah Hills , 13-Nov-2008

The sustainability marketplace is becoming more sophisticated, according to new research which identifies five distinct consumer groups that food and beverage manufacturers could specifically target with green or eco-friendly products.

More than three quarters of US adults show some kind of green motivation, according to Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), which said that such a high percentage makes sustainability much more attractive and “increases the imperative for businesses to engage with consumers of all types”.

Lohas consumers, (Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability) represent 17 percent, or 38m consumers, and are said to have the strongest environmental, social, and corporate social responsibility values and are the highest buyers of green, healthy, and socially-conscious products.

However, the market researcher, which specializes in the health, wellness, and sustainable categories, has also identified four other consumers segments.

They are the Naturalites, who are driven by personal health and wellness; Drifters, who are price sensitive; Conventionals, who are driven more by cost savings and wasting less than any environmental consciousness and Unconcerned consumers, who do not actively buy green products.

Steve French, NMI managing partner, said: “The percentage of Lohas consumers has remained stable since 2005 while all of the other segments show noteworthy shifts. Drifters and Conventionals in particular, have increased significantly.

“These shifts are reflective of both rising environmental and social concerns, as well as the current economic situation.

“The challenge to marketers is to optimize messaging and align their products and services with the dynamic nature of the consumer.”

NMI said that brands can find value in understanding the attitudes and behavior of Lohas consumers, as they are “bellwethers” of more mainstream consumer behavior in the future.

Segment breakdown

Naturalites (17 percent of all US adults) are said to be high purchasers of eco-consumables. They want to do more for the environment and are loyal to those companies or brands which practice credible corporate social responsibility.

Drifters (24 percent) are typically engaged in sustainability but their behaviors are not deeply rooted. They are more likely to be eco-concerned if affected personally. NMI said they show some of the most dramatic increases over time and, given this growth, marketers need to communicate the “caché and camaraderie that such a green lifestyle creates”.

Conventionals (26 percent) are described as practical but they do not have a “green attitude”. However they tend to engage in “municipal” environmental behaviors such as recycling and respond to messages of practicality or financial savings that can accompany a sustainable lifestyle.

The Unconcerned group (16 percent) are not necessarily against the environment, but are not actively engaged in protecting it.

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