Cleantech Marketing Gurus: LED Marketing Offers Insights Into Breaking Out of the “Green Market Niche”

When we first checked in with clean energy marketing gurus Cathy L. Hartman and Edwin R. Stafford of Utah State University’s Center for the Market Diffusion of Renewable Energy and Clean Technology last year, it was to discuss the problem of what they call “green marketing myopia.” A key finding of their research on that topic was a seemingly obvious one – that “effective green marketing requires applying good marketing principles to make green products desirable for consumers” – yet one that green marketers don’t always follow successfully.

Now, Hartman and Stafford are out with an article which applies their green marketing principles to one specific product: LED lighting. Given research indicating that “environmentally conscious consumer purchasing accounts for only 1 to 5 percent of the market, a tiny niche,” clearly it’s imperative to broaden the appeal of “green” products to “the other 95 to 99 percent of consumers.” How to do this?  By emphasizing the “green” product’s positive attributes in areas other than “saving the earth”:

  • cost and energy savings”
  • “convenience”
  • “health and safety”
  • “better performance”
  • “status and prestige”
  • “bundling” (“adding consumer value to greener products”)
  • “appealing to youth” by emphasizing the cool things you can do with LED lighting (e.g, “Users can also tap photographic scenes, including a sunrise, a beach, and a sunny Greek garden, all of which can be mimicked by the LEDs.”)

In short, while it’s fine to talk about your “green” or “greener” product’s potential for “saving the earth” with environmentally-oriented customers, with everyone else you need to market just like all other products are marketed – by emphasizing their cool features, benefits, unique features, etc.  Of course, LEDs are only one type of cleantech product. Still, the lessons could very well be applicable to many other products.  Or, as Hartman and Stafford state in the conclusion to their latest article: “how savvy companies are thinking beyond energy savings to encourage the transition to LEDs presents some good insights about how makers of greener products can break out of the green market niche and position their offerings as more appealing, addictive, and mainstream.”