NESC's Water Blogged

Helping Small Communities for more than 30 years

Marketing Water

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Follow the lead of corporate marketers and focus on the market you can reach.

Wouldn’t it be great if marketing water—or green marketing in general—were easy? If so, we’d have no trouble getting people to change their behavior and conserve water, scoop dog poop, or make whatever clean-water action we wanted them to make.

We’ve operated on the assumption—for quite a long time—that any kind of green marketing is going to be hard work—that we have change our customers attitude and values to have any kind of effect on their behavior. And that takes a concerted effort over a long period of time to effect change. Or maybe not.

If we take our cue from corporate marketers, maybe we can effect change sooner. These marketers usually stay clear of awareness and education communications, preferring to target consumers who are already open to the message they are trying to deliver. The reason for this is self-evident: businesses can make a lot more money by selling to people who are ready to buy. And it takes time and money to get people to realize they need what you’re selling. Maybe we don’t have to go to great lengths to sell “our product.”

Some new marketing information suggests that we don’t have to shift our customers’ attitudes to get the behavior change that we seek. According to a study out of Denmark—although a few years old it has some useful results—conducted by Professors John Thøgersen and Folke Ölander of the Aarhus School of Business, if we give people the opportunity to engage in environmentally friendly behavior, they will. In other words, if we supply them with the products, they will use them.

For example, if we want people to conserve water, scoop dog poop, or some other equally important third thing, if we supply them with water conservation tools, pooper-scooper bags, or whatever it is that they need to perform the behavior, they will likely do it.

Of course, there are those people who aren’t going to do anything that requires effort, but for now, let’s worry about the people we can reach and take advantage of that opportunity.

We’ll continue posts about green marketing over the next several weeks. Stay tuned for more information.

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