Mintel, an international research company, has found that businesses aiming to promote their “green” products or practices should focus the majority of their attention on younger consumers who are active on social media. According to Mintel’s data, 12 percent of people ages 18 to 24 have “liked” a company on Facebook, followed a company on Twitter, or pinned a company on Pinterest specifically because of the company’s environmentally friendly stance.
Mintel’s findings indicate not only a significant connection between green companies and younger consumers, but between green companies and social network activity. One of the primary motivating factors for consumers who support certain brands or products because of an environmentally friendly image is pressure from friends and family.
According to Mintel’s research, 24 percent of people who value being perceived as green admitted to having purchased a green product only to make themselves seem environmentally conscious in the eyes of others. This is compared to an overall average of 9 percent. 20 percent of those who value being perceived as green admitted to hiding recyclable trash that was mixed in with regular, non-recyclable trash–this compared to an 8 percent average.
“Clearly, avoiding a potential negative perception from others drives at least some green behaviors, says Mintel lifestyles and leisure analyst Fiona O’Donnell. “On one hand, the green movement benefits from the social pressures that many consumers feel to go green. On the other hand, because some consumers are acting in an environmentally friendly manner to avoid a negative stigma–and not truly out of concern for the environment–once the social pressure is removed, green behaviors are less likely to stick.”
A lack of this “stickiness” is a common quality of green behavior that concerns many businesses which rely on their environmentally friendly image for success. As a result, the role that social pressure plays in the fostering of green buying habits has made social media a channel of vital importance. Therein lies the centrality of younger consumers to what Mintel suggests is the most effective plan of attack for green businesses looking to augment their online marketing; on average; Facebook users ages 18 to 34 have over 300 friends, giving them the greatest potential for online social influence.
Smith, Ned. “Social Media Influencing Green Buying.” Business News Daily, 4/22/13.