Over the past decade we have seen eco-friendly promotional products become far more numerous and in many cases more economical.  Some within this industry have recently questioned whether their popularity and the demand for them have peaked.  Some manufacturers of promotional products have actually seen a decline in sales over the past couple of years.  Both are a bit surprising because most people are more concerned about the environment today than they were five or more years ago.  Some attribute the decline to price.  That could have been the case in the past, but today there are plenty of examples of eco-friendly products and garments that are no more costly than their conventional counterparts.  Others attribute the decline to a reaction to the “green washing” that took place over the past few years.  “Green washing” was the unsavory practice of labeling a product eco-friendly when certain aspects of the product were obviously not.  For example, was the product chemically treated in some way, was it necessary to fly the product to its final destination, and was it packaged in such a way that defeated its “green” aspects.

The most important positive trend that we are seeing is the importance of selecting eco-friendly promotional products that are truly useful, functional, reusable, and that provide actual value to the recipient.  There appears to be a growing backlash in this country and abroad against waste and consumerism for consumerism’s sake.

One way to take cues for selecting promotional products from the retail marketplace is to think about our intended audience’s buying habits.  An expert in the green marketing field says there are two types of people in general that purchase and prefer eco-friendly products.  The first group does so only when financially viable, and the other thinks of the environment before any purchase and is willing to pay more if needed.  The first group might be larger than it otherwise would as a result of the tough economic times in the past few years.  We can all appreciate the need to opt for lower cost products at times in comparison to those with more aesthetic appeal.  To those in the second group, the eco-friendly cause and buying organic products is important to them and is a way of life.  Understanding the preferences of our intended audience, and what products they will assign a higher perceived value is crucial for those responsible for selecting promotional products to brand their organization.

Another aspect of understanding the audience that desires eco-friendly products is that those who routinely select “green” products also tend to be socially conscious.  For them it is important to purchase and use products that are authentically green and supplied by companies that are open about their corporate mission, how they source and produce products, and their dedication to international fair trade and labor laws.  Many young adults have been educated on eco-friendly products and manufacturing best practices.  So, these audiences will be attracted to and appreciate the use of eco-friendly products used in an organization’s marketing strategy.

Please contact TheMarketPro when you are considering promotional products and decorated apparel so that we can provide the information you need to make the best possible purchasing decisions.  TheMarketPro can be reached at 800-905-0073 or sales@themarketpro.net .  Additional articles can be found at www.TheMarketPro.net in our “Going Green with Promotional Products” and “Coffee Break Reading” sections.

Source:  Dale, Shane, “Eco-Friendly Products—Has Green Peaked”.  Counselor, State of the Industry 2012, pages 110-111.

Author:            Connie King

Published:       July 2012

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