If you’re asking why consumers don’t get it, you’re asking the wrong question
Most Fridays I take part in connectFriday on Twitter – an hour’s green business chat which originated here in the North East but has now gone global (follow @connectFriday for more). I get bullied by the organisers into providing a quote of the week and a tip of the week and I enjoy a good chinwag on a chewy topic.
Last week’s debate evolved from someone plaintively asking when will consumers ‘get it’. My immediate riposte was that it was the wrong question – that as businesses it is futile to blame customers for not buying our product – it is either the wrong product, the wrong price or it is being marketed and sold the wrong way. In this respect we have to assume the customer is always right – and sitting back and waiting for them to ‘get it’ is self defeating.
The conversation evolved into the cost of green goods and services and how it was difficult to avoid passing those costs onto the consumer. This is a valid point and an area where the big brands have a distinct advantage over the green entrepreneurs who are the typical connectFriday participants. They have the buying power and the financial oomph to build the supply chains they need.
In the Green Executive, I gave examples of Marks & Spencer and Royal Mail actively building the supply chains they need and this morning Asda announced it had developed a supply chain for bananas in the Canaries which will slash their carbon footprint from the perspective of European consumers. The small business may have to wait for such supply chains to emerge and mature, or use that entrepreneurial spirit to exploit opportunities for green materials others have missed or passed over.
But whatever the situation, the green entrepreneur must approach the market from the right direction – offering desirable green products at the right price, not waiting for some kind of mass Damascene conversion. You’ll be waiting a long time.