The Luxury Market Is Going Green - Brands Can't Afford to Ignore It.
By Pam Danziger ~ Unity Marketing
Thursday, 12th June 2008
The typical 'green' consumer is no longer certain to be a fashion-challenged, granola-crunching wearer of Birkenstocks. 

Today, the consumer looking to go green is increasingly likely to be an affluent professional woman wearing an eco-friendly and animal-free Stella McCartney suit and satin shoes.  And if you want her dollars and her loyalty, you need to pay attention to the priorities she finds important when making her selection of luxury goods and services.

Green luxury consumers look for social responsibility before making a purchase

According to Unity Marketing's latest trend report on luxury, Green Marketing and the Luxury Consumer, luxury consumers are concerned about the environmental issues that hit closest to home, citing fuel and energy shortages and the use of renewable energy sources as top concerns. 

"With gas prices at $4 a gallon -- and this might be the summer low -- even the affluent find it hard to ignore the impact of filling your tank a couple of times a week," says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of Shopping:  Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience.

However, luxury consumers are also looking beyond themir pocketbooks to larger issues, like protecting the environment, global warming and avoiding water and air pollution.  And the leaders on these issues are affluent women.

Danziger explains, "In all of the green issues that Unity Marketing studied, women popped as being  much more concerned than men.  This is an important signal for luxury marketers to sit up and take notice, as women are often the major shoppers for a family, making the primary decisions about the products and services the family will purchase.  For luxury consumers, an increasing number are looking to a company's environmental practices before making a purchase."

Take Action:  Luxury marketers need to think of the long term and going green should be part of the plan

"A lot of marketers are skeptical about the green trend.  They don't know whether it has legs or is just a fad of the moment.  I am convinced that this issue is only going to gain momentum in the future, with the affluent consumers in particular taking the lead as early adopters of green living.  So the call is for luxury brands to connect with their customers who are increasingly green aware and eco-conscious by making green marketing a part of their strategy.  Luxury marketers can learn by studying trend-setters who are creating a dedicated following among green- living luxury consumers," Danziger says.

For example, only a few years ago designer Stella McCartney with her no-animal policy was considered very much on the fringe of fashion.  Today she is front and center as a luxury designer of fashion-forward and environmentally-sound style. 

Donna Karan is also at the forefront of the green movement through her Urban Zen initiative which combines a philanthropic foundation along with a retail arm that distributes a line of natural and organic fashions.

"Saks Fifth Avenue is another trend-setter in the green marketing category," Danziger explains.  "From converting their extravagant Fifth Avenue Christmas display to LED lights which drastically reduced energy consumption to their 'Green House -- Home of Eco Smart Style' online initiative where website visitors can shop for eco-friendly designer fashion, home furnishings and jewelry made from recycled metals, the retailer is putting efforts behind helping their affluent customers live responsibly. 

"Another interesting initiative for Saks is a new sales area just introduced  in five of its stores called 'The Beauty of Living Well.'  The sales areas are devoted to what Saks terms 'natraceutical' skin care products.  What is intriguing about this new concept is that it is intended as a platform to expand into other healthful living products, including nutritional products and supplements.

Danziger concludes, "My advice to luxury marketers is not to wait, but start to plan for green marketing initiatives that will connect with the priorities of their increasingly green-aware consumers.  This trend  isn't going away.  On the contrary, it will only grow and luxury consumers will expect their favorite luxe brands to go green along with them."

Unity Marketing's luxury trend report, Green Marketing and the Luxury Consumers, provides marketers data and ideas to plan their green marketing strategies

Unity Marketing has just published a luxury trend report, Green Marketing and the Luxury Consumers, which provides research data from its most recent survey among 1,281 luxury consumers (average income $155,700 and age 46.6 years). 

The report offers intelligence on what is important to luxury consumers in terms of green marketing and implications for luxury marketers and brands to respond to the increasingly aware green luxury consumer.

Pamela N. Danziger is an internationally recognized expert specializing in consumer insights, especially for marketers and retailers that sell luxury goods and experiences to the masses or the 'classes.' She is president of Unity Marketing, a marketing consulting firm she founded in 1992. She is president of Unity Marketing, a marketing consulting firm she founded in 1992.

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