Brands can’t ignore sustainability anymore—not when 88% of consumers want brands to help them make a difference by being eco-friendly. But creating sustainable products and services isn’t enough. You also need to market them to the right audience. And what many companies don’t realize is that there isn’t just one group-type of sustainable brands, neither is there one singular sustainable audience. Choosing which of these audiences to market to, will make all the difference.
We’ve done some research into audiences that are largely swayed by a brand’s environmentally friendly status. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look into the various sustainability-driven audiences and help you indicate which one is the best to target with your campaigns.
The Key Sustainability Audiences That You Can Target
The Enthusiastic Experts
The Enthusiastic Expert is a consumer who prioritizes whole-system sustainable thinking. More often than not, they’re in the 35-45-year-olds age bracket, live in rural areas, and have a medium/high education level.
These are individuals who are dedicated to sustainable and eco-friendly living, so you will need to put in the hard work to convince them that your brand meets their high expectations. After all, these are the people who place a brand’s sustainability above all else when deciding where to buy products and services.
As Enthusiastic Experts are so attuned to sustainability, they believe that any brand committing environmental damage should pay higher taxes. They’re also very strict with themselves about avoiding brands that don’t act sustainably.
In terms of how this audience compares with their peers, Enthusiastic Experts are a lot more vocal about environmental matters and are usually more knowledgeable about sustainable brands too.
Follow The Example
One brand well-equipped to convince the Enthusiastic Expert to pay with their hard-earned cash is Boden, a clothing line aimed at older fashion fans who usually have children. Boden is well-known for its exceptional sustainability policies that include supporting an ethical supply chain, reducing environmental impact, and supporting equally responsible and sustainable charities.
Boden has begun using its sustainable profile as a way to penetrate a fledgling industry: children’s clothing. While this industry should be booming (new customers are born every day), many big brands are closing down (Mamas & Papas and Mothercare in the UK this year alone). For other brands to avoid falling to the same fate, they need to create something original, longlasting, and affordable for their customers. Boden did just that this year by launching new clothing made from Econyl nylon sourced from discarded fishing nets.
A brand that is so outspoken about sustainability and willing to move with the times is sure to catch the attention of Enthusiastic Experts.
The Inspired Innovators
The youngest of our sustainability audiences, the Inspired Innovators are Gen Z and Millennials who come from urban and higher-education backgrounds. This group prioritizes innovation and forward-thinking.
Inspired Innovators are usually early adopters and are keen to try new ideas and products. On top of that, they’re the audience that tends to be the most proactive in seeking out sustainable brands and are willing to boycott brands that don’t fit this model. They are somewhat vocal and knowledgeable about sustainability although, the biggest difference that sets them apart from the Enthusiastic Experts, that they are not in favor of higher taxes for unsustainable brands.
The best way for your brand to engage with Inspired Innovators is to prove to them that you are at the forefront of sustainability. Thought-provoking messages alongside interesting products and innovative thinking will help to keep these young consumers on your side.
Follow the Example
The brand is really pushing to capture the hearts or innovators by opening the very first plastic packaging-free beauty shop in Manchester. Lush is also able to innovate in times of crisis. When the COVID pandemic hit and most Lush stores were closed worldwide, the brand saw its customers switching to online shopping. Such an instant high demand in products would see other brands bring in the technology to mass-produce but Lush stayed true to their morals and stayed producing handmade products. This was made possible by innovative tools that made work more efficient instead.
The Considerate Conventionalists
Next, let’s take a look at the Considerate Conventionalists. This group is made up of slightly older consumers, usually aged 45-65 who live in more rural areas. This audience appreciates transparency, knowledge, and empowerment.
These are a fairly mainstream bunch of consumers as their views on sustainability are average compared to the previous two audiences. Therefore, their view on sustainable brands is that they are important but slightly less so.
Considerate Conventionalists tend to be somewhat knowledgeable about brands that offer sustainable goods although they aren’t all that clued-up on the subject in more technical terms. Despite that, they are still open to paying more for products and services that are environmentally friendly. When it comes to boycotting and higher taxes for unsustainable brands this group generally stands against both.
How to coax the Considerate Conventionalist over to your brand? You just need to highlight why the sustainable attributes of your products or services are important. Provide them with plenty of information and transparency to easily promote your brand to this mainstream group.
Follow the Example
Bulb, a UK green energy supplier, is tapping into the Considerate Conventionalist audience by putting information on sustainability out there, and in a way that it is easy to understand. The company is aware that as sustainable energy and utility companies are now moving into the mainstream in the UK, most consumers are becoming more aware of how these firms benefit both themselves and the environment. In order to get the interest of these consumers above other brands, Bulb is doing a good job promoting itself in simple terms to consumers by saying they’re simpler, cheaper, and greener than other energy brands
The Reserved Rationalists
Finally, the Reserved Rationalists. This audience is made up of consumers who are on the lookout for value for themselves. They are slightly older in the 35-44, 45-55, and 55-65 age groups and often live in urban areas with a medium to high education.
If you’re going to have trouble convincing an audience about the positives of sustainability, this is it. Even though these consumers do believe that sustainable products are a good thing, they adhere to the idea much less than all the other audiences. Laggards that are often unwilling to pay more for sustainable goods, Reserved Rationalists are neither knowledgeable nor vocal about sustainability.
As this group is not proactive in hunting sustainable brands, they don’t know which brands are actually acting sustainably. They also disagree with boycotting and higher taxes for companies that do not implement sustainable policies.
In order to appeal to the Reserved Rationalist, you will need to prove that your sustainable brand provides them with value. There’s not much point in trying to prove any positives of sustainability to them as they are likely to think that you’re selling them a fad. To win them over, you need to show that sustainable products are value-driven.
Follow the Example
Amazon is really making the effort to set itself up as a brand that can win over the Reserved Rationalists. How? Well, one tactic they have successfully put in place is simply being honest. Amazon has put its hands up and has acknowledged the part it played in damaging the environment. But now it is set to rectify that damage as much as possible.Amazon has set a number of impressive policies in place: it has purchased 100,000 electric delivery vans; it hopes to be completely emission-free by 2030. In addition, the brand has vowed it will become even easier to buy sustainable products from the site. As consumers appreciate convenience, this is sure to get at least some of the lost customers coming back to Amazon.
Marketing isn’t just about attracting customers - it is about attracting the right customers. This is true of any industry including sustainability. There isn’t just one sustainable audience out there, there are four: Enthusiastic Experts, Inspired Innovators, Considerate Conventionalists, and Reserved Rationalists. Depending on where your brand is right now in terms of sustainability perception, you need to make sure all your marketing engages with the right audience from this group. Sure, the sustainability journey is a long road ahead but it is a road that every brand is going to have to take. If you start this journey sooner rather than later and focus on the sustainability audience for your brand, you’ll be creating the essential foundations of a legendary brand.