Mainstreaming green behaviors demands massive new approach

A new study by the leading sustainability consultancy OglivyEarth “Mainstream Green: Moving sustainability from niche to normal” provides new insight on how to close the Green Gap that persists between what consumers say and what they actually do around sustainable living. The study notes several imperative steps to allow green purchasing practices to enter the mainstream. These are some of the highlights:

Make it Normal: The great Middle Green is not looking to set themselves apart from everyone else. They want to fit in. When it comes to driving mass behavior change, marketers need to restrain the urge to make going green feel cool or different, and instead make it normal.

Eliminate the Sustainability Tax: The high prices of many of the greener products suggest an attempt to limit or discourage more sustainable choices. Eliminating the price barrier eliminates the notion that green products are not for normal citizens.

Make Eco-friendly Male Ego-friendly: Sustainability must strike a chord with male consumers by considering what works in traditional marketing. For example, automotive brands with alternative fuel vehicles are finding success by sticking to what has been shown to work — sleek ads with an emphasis on speed and design.

Lose the Crunch: Just because a product is green doesn’t mean it must be packaged in burlap. For green marketing to succeed, it must be liberated from the traditional stereotypes to emphasize the most compelling personal benefits.

Hedonism over Altruism: The emotional tenor of sustainable marketing to date has been focused on appeals to Americans’ altruistic tendencies, but our research shows that this is to deny human nature. Wise brands are tapping into enjoyment over altruism.

Do you have other ideas about how to use purchasing power for sustainability and the way to take green spending habits mainstream? Please share them below!

Listen to Carolyn’s interview with Simran Sethi on the Psychological Barriers to Going Green. Eye-opening!



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  1. If you would like to dive deeper into the findings and implications of this important study join Graceann Bennett, co-author of the “Mainstream Green” report for a lively discussion and networking cocktail at NYU’s 11 West 42nd Street midtown location from 6-9PM EST on May 23rd:

    (Space is limited so please RSVP via the Eventbrite link below)

    If you can’t make it in person you can join in online via uStream and ask questions using facebook or Twitter (no RSVP required):


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