Stereotyping the Green Consumer into Hell - Stupid Human Ticks from the Natural Marketing Institute. Isle 9, PlanetShifter.com
Stereotyping the Green Consumer into Hell - Stupid Human Ticks from the Natural Marketing Institute. Isle 9, PlanetShifter.com.

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If you've been following the green marketplace lately, there's a good chance your head is spinning. With endless studies that continue their obstinate rally toward the trivializing of just about any green concern, it becomes challenging to tell apart fluff from relevant data. As part of our Customer Segmentation Series, we go over the most relevant segmentation models out there, hoping to help marketers out on their quest to better messaging and relevancy.

The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), a market research company that specializes in the health and wellness marketplace, has recently developed a customer segmentation model based on green psychographics - delving into people's lifestyles and behaviours, including their interests and values.

Purveyor of all things LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability), NMI defines the market space so it includes organic foods, health and wellness, alternative medicine, green energy, green living, and other goods and services. NMI tracks more than 100 drivers to consumer behaviour and divides the market into five categories:

<+> LOHAS - very progressive on environment and society, looking for ways to do more; not too concerned about price (16%).

<+> Naturalites - primarily concerned about personal health and wellness, and use many natural products; would like to do more to protect the environment (25%).

<+> Conventionals - practical, like to see the results of what they do; interested in green products that make sense (e.g., save money) in the long run (23%).

<+> Drifters - not too concerned about environment, figuring we've got time to fix environmental problems; don't necessarily buy a lot of green products, though may like to "be seen" in Whole Foods to enhance their image (23%).

<+> Unconcerned - have other priorities, not really sure what green products are available, and probably wouldn't be interested anyway; they buy products strictly on price, value, quality, and convenience (14%).

As with any customer segmentation model, NMI's is far from being perfect. The lack of demographics renders this model somewhat ambiguous and hard to apply to the real world. If my ideal consumer is 28 years old, is he a Drifter or a Conventional? What is the average income of a LOHAS client? Does the typical Unconcerned have a masters degree or just high school? This model fails to answer critical questions that help marketers fine-tune their messaging, tweak the product offering and adapt product packaging.

While no segmentation model is 100% reliable, NMI's does shed some light into the green market space and its structure. Understanding your clients' interests and hobbies goes a long way toward reaching them. While a deep green, LOHAS consumer might be found doing yoga, driving a hybrid and visiting the recycling center, a Naturalite might be more likely to drive an SUV but purchase only organic vegetables and visit a homeopathic doctor. Defining these traits through research and customer segmentation models can lead to appropriate media selection and more targeted programs.

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