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Green: Everybody Wants It, But They Don’t Want to Pay for It

green eco-friendly

“The only green that really matters in this environmentally-friendly revolution is the amount of green dollar bills it takes to be eco-friendly.”

— Anonymous

Green solutions can be a controversial subject to talk about, especially in the architectural and design industry. Long before green became the marketing trend and buzz word for the early 21st century, the architectural industry had long been working with a LEED mindset to reduce waste and be more efficient in production. The benefits were obvious – reducing material and construction waste and cutting down on transportation costs (shipping from long distances) made a positive impact on the bottom line of the overall cost of a new building or interior renovation.  The added benefits were easy to see – less consumption, less pollution, less waste in a landfill – all very
eco-friendly topics.

Following that business logic, it would seem that the majority of consumers and businesses would want to naturally adopt new products and services that are environmentally-friendly or green focused, right?

Not really. The truth is money still matters, and money is the really the “green” that everyone worries about when it comes to making  eco-friendly purchases. Consumers and businesses will make the choice to buy and implement green products and services when they cost the same or less than non-green products and services.

Everyone is driven to show value, watch the bottom line and prove an ROI for choices made. Therefore, we expect given these market drivers and the current economic state, green is still a nice to have if it can be justified, but not a mandatory.  We wonder in good times, would the demand change?

Taking a turn, we all debated about the latest story that continues to make headlines – SunChips are now packaged in the first compostable bag.  While litterers can instantly feel better about themselves now that their trash will decompose, interestingly enough consumers were turned off due to the loud noise the bag made. Further, all U.S. all bags are being converted back to the traditional packaging except for one SKU.

So price for this new packaging is the same for the consumer, it is an improvement by having a more eco-friendly offering – however the majority of consumers reaction is not willing to accept these trade-offs since the bag is noisy.  This is an interesting debate, regardless of the noise in-convenience, shouldn’t we all need to accept a packaging option that is better for the environment – its chips – minimal impact!  However, it would be a simple conclusion that SunChips will not mandate the new packaging “because it is the right packaging for the environment” fear of loss of sales.

As a product manager for Sun Chips, did you see that one coming? Even if you were on the sustainability team did you?   How will this lesson influence other companies, even pioneers in the industry who are trying to bring more “green” products to market respond?  It’s not enough to have a green offering, it must be one with minimal trade-offs and no one can guess where than threshold lies, since in the end it is not about the environment.

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