Friday, October 29, 2010

How can we persuade Gen Y to put their money where their mouth is?


While Gen Y consumers (18 – 34) are more likely to join advocacy groups, attend rallies, and write to politicians, they are 15% - 25% less likely to base their actual purchasing decisions on the issues they deem to be important.

Instead they are five times more likely to purchase products perceived as prestigious, as they attempt to show others that they are successful. (Lukovitz, 2010)

So, how to we get them to buy green?

Lukovitz, K. (2010, October 21). External Validation Drives Gen Y Purchases. Retrieved October 27, 2010, from


  1. It would be interesting to note what advocacy groups, rallies, and letter-writing these Gen Ys are saying they're involved in - I would guess it would be popular causes, like Obama's election or saving polar bears/talking about The Inconvenient Truth. If the self-reported involvement is not genuine and is, instead, about being on the bandwagon with one's peers - much like having the right sneakers or sunglasses - I don't know that there's much a green company can do besides become trendy. Cynical, perhaps, but a common problem for green. People talk a good talk, but often fail to follow through.

  2. Despite Gen Y's love of all things gilded, I think an opportunity for eco-conscious companies and brands to make their consumers green is...with envy. Gen Y is a materialistic bunch, as mentioned causing them to be 5x more likely to base purchase decisions on prestige. Prestige relates to rarity and distinction. So, eco-friendly companies need to correlate themselves with those qualities as well. An example that comes to mind, as I look at my Starbucks thermos is the PRODUCT(red) campaign. In producing limited products for consumers, it has been incredibly successful. People covet that which allows them to stand out in the crowd, branding themselves with a cause and ultimately proving their awareness and concern. Should "going green" also be positioned in this way, I think it too, can also be very successful with Gen Y.

  3. I think that this problem with Gen Y is already slowly being solved in urban areas, or at least people have the right idea. Going green needs to become a trend, or the popular thing to do. As caddy as that may be, this is how we will be able to create a strong following. Companies like Tom's Shoes and PRODUCT (red)are paving the general path that Go Green needs to follow. I feel that the suburban areas have not been targeted enough, so maybe that is the next step. I notice a huge difference between the city and my suburban hometown. Maybe by approaching college campuses with the new trend, we will be able to spread the green. SO I think the key is to sell the Go Green campaign as "the cool thing to do", rather than "the right thing to do. "

  4. I agree with all the comments above. Selling green has to become a trend, something that everyone is doing in that age group because everyone else is doing it not because it is the right thing to do. While Gen Y may say they are active in this or that, they really don't carry those beliefs into their daily lives. Hence, marketers must make people believe that it is something aligned with a brand, emphasize the value, functionality and quality of going green for you and less of what it means for society. -Ji-Ying

  5. I think the problem is that it's too easy for Gen Y to join and to be labeled in these advocacy groups. Its too assessable now to go to a rally, or like a green peace group on Facebook, or be part of a green program. This is because these groups rely on numbers to make their group seem popular and important, and Gen Y knows that its cool to be green. So the groups build their numbers and Gen Y gets to looks like and feel like they are making a difference. What these green peace groups should do it making it required that if your going to label yourself with a group you got to make a green purchase before joining or prove you've been choosing green products. This way the kids who are being somewhat peer pressured or the kids who want to join to be cool will actually make a difference.

  6. I agree with everyone. I think Alex had a great point. People in differnt areas think differently. While Gen Y in NYC may be active and attending rallies, Gen Y in Austin, TX or Columbus, OH are thinking of where to eat Chili's or FRIDAYS. So, maybe rolling out campaigns targeting the different cultures, ie. urban vs. Suburban, may be more effective. Playing on the known needs(wants) of Gen Y, make me feel special and important by buying your green product.

  7. more about society issues than about going green, i think this can be shown by american apparel.
    "Still, once a product or service meets the desired image and value criteria, Gen Y's are willing to pay more for it if it or the company that produces it reflects or contributes to the issues they care about."
    the company stresses the fact that it's vertically integrated and while being a pretty trendy brand, that people will pay more and feel cool still.

    i agree with jason in that it's easy to appear like people care about these political issues, but then not let it impact your life. rallies and events are fun, so gen Y attends them even when they don't care very much. and even when people have strong opinions on subject matters like these, it doesn't always transfer into their buying decisions.

    maybe what the real solution is is to get the already popular brands to go green, rather than trying to get gen Y to change their buying habits.

  8. Wow, most of the Gen Y’s I know stare clear of politics and rallies. But I am aware of the group that would make purchases based on prestige. Green companies targeting this particular sounds like a difficult task. As a Gen Y myself I have never paid much attention this particular trend. The ads never caught my attention. I also always felt the eco friendly products were targeted towards baby boomers. I mean do not get me wrong we care about our environment as well, but unfortunately we care more about having the latest and the most exclusives items. Diane K brought up a great point when she explained that eco friendly companies should consider correlating their products with prestige and exclusivity, making it more attractive to the Gen Y consumer. I agree! If they market their products as a must have product due its prestige or a product that is difficult to acquire it might just drive the Gen y's to make that purchase. Because I honestly I cannot think of any other way to gain the attention of this market.

  9. "Green", "eco-friendly", or "organic" products are usually more expensive than other products. I believe this is one of the largest problems in persuading Gen Y to buy green. While Gen Y may genuinely be interested in the current Green Movement, the average 18-34 cannot afford to spend an extra $15 on an organic cotton tshirt. Therefore I think green companies need to lower prices to compete with the products Gen Y continues to buy.