Insights from “other” green segmentation studies

21 May 2010|Kelli Peterson

Yesterday, we were finalizing a recommendation for a set of light to dark green segmentation definitions for one of our clients. The definitions are to be based on a set of attitudes and behaviors that we tested for quantitatively with our client’s core target audience and we are currently in the process of using the results to define and develop the size of our strategic opportunity.

As we were developing our definitions, we decided we should look for other examples of green descriptions to vet both our conclusions and the rationalization for sizing projections. Not surprisingly, our foray proved quite useful in helping us clarify just how important it is to use other marketplace data as a benchmarking tool rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to defining green aptitudes and interests for any given category or brand.

We found this info useful so thought we’d share a few for your own use:

The LOHAS Segmentation
Developed by the Natural Marketing Institute and promoted as a platform for green innovation by Nielson BASES in this 2008 article, LOHAS breaks down audiences by intent and includes LOHAS (17%), Naturalites (17%), Drifters (24%), Conventionals(26%) and Unconcerned’s (16%). The original segmentation was created to help define consumer motivation in the category and specific drivers for sustainable purchases. As a combination analysis it is indeed a fantastic platform for green innovation but as a straightforward opportunity analysis, the definitions of each need to take into consideration: a) the timing of the study…much has evolved in the last two years in terms of the implications of the recession on segment size/willingness to purchase, the increase of “green” product proliferation and thus “education” in the marketplace; and b) use of the definitions need to take into consideration the core equities of any given brand’s audience. In other words, a value brand will need to react differently to the LOHAS segmentation than a luxury brand. Conventionals and Drifters are pragmatic, budget oriented segments that can provide insights but cannot cover the spectrum of nuances that a segmentation for a value-brand focused on green would provide.

Targeting TV Audiences
Published in Adweek this past Earth Day, the second study we found cross-analyzed a variety of sources that ultimately tied attitudes and behaviors to TV viewing preferences. In this study utilizing data from NBC Universal, MRI, NMI, The SHIFT Report, 2010 and Nielsen TV watching data, the five segments were entitled Alpha-Ecos (43 million), Eco-Centrics (34 million), Eco-Chics (57 million), Economically Ecos (53 million) and Eco-Moms (33% of Moms with kids under 18). There were a few similarities, mainly that the spectrum included the extreme segment deeply committed to the cause and the more practical, budget-driven grouping. However this study incorporated age, status and lifestyle (i.e. Mom’s) as part of their defining characteristics and even drew a conclusion about Eco-Centrics as actually not caring much about the greater impact of their eco-purchases but more about the benefits of the products to themselves. NBCU uses all of this as a tool to help their advertisers pick the right media property for their green product advertisers.

Dark Green are Tech-Savvy
And finally, this MRI study breaks down the green consumer into the following segments: Un-Green (46%), Green at the Supermarket (10%), Green in Theory (18%), Green but Only If (6%), Green at their Best (16%), and Green Advocates (2%). This study seems to have a high degree of correlation with education as manifested by the statement “greenest adults are the most tech-savvy”. As a researcher this would correlate with my experience of tech adopters being highly educated and quite often found in dense metropolitan areas like Chicago, NY and LA. Which might mean their Green Advocates might respond to fact-based info, which might mean that messages incorporating the science around sustainable products might be highly appealing. But that all depends on your product category and primary audience. If you are SC Johnson selling a “greener” Windex, which target are you looking to appeal to?

The net of all this – as marketers interested in entering the green category and looking for sizing opportunities– do your own research! The platforms and strategies for brands to go green incorporates unique brand assets and drivers that can have complex meaning and hold very different opportunity indicators. Millions of dollars are stake so invest wisely in the right kind of research to develop your product and marketing strategy.

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