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She's Waiting: Five Ways to Reach Women via Sustainable Business Practices

by Andrea Learned  |  
September 16, 2008

Sometimes the stars just align and consumer trends come together in a way that seems so natural. Consider, for instance, the women's market and sustainable business practices. If you've been struggling to pursue each as a separate initiative, take heart. In many ways, you will come to powerfully reach today's savviest women by taking steps toward sustainability—in what you make, how you make it, and how you then market it.

For women making purchasing decisions, many variables surrounding a product—beyond the basics of price/features—have long come into play. Women may perceive a brand to be unacceptable because they might perceive it has been slow on the environmentally responsible uptake, for example, or that its parent conglomerate's executives have been in the news once too often for questionable ethics.

On the other hand, women may be perfectly happy with a brand and then notice that it competitor is sponsoring a local run for a cancer fund... inspiring them to consider at least a trial switch.

Consumers "naturally" consider a new product/brand when some element catches their eye as different and they assess that the switching process will be mostly painless. When such a brand change might also make a consumer feel good or reflect a lifestyle with which they like to be identified—all the better.

Let's take Method brand dish soap as a case study:

  • Eye-catchers: Clever package shape and trendy scents, including the option of no scent (well, I guess that's a nose-catcher).
  • Painless entry: It washes dishes like the traditional brands.
  • Bonus: Lifestyle-reflection factor ("green" products are in, and in many communities you are perceived to be cool if you use them.)

Of course, there may be a drawback, in the form of Method's higher price, but just as with Prius and its amazing growth in popularity, a lot of people think those extra benefits are worth paying for.

With a triple bottom-line of making money for shareholder/owner, and doing well by not only employees/the community but also for the environment, sustainable business practices naturally address many common considerations of a woman's buying mind, all the while creating relevant products.

Let's map out a few ways that women's buying and sustainable business are a fit:

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Andrea Learned is a noted author, blogger, and expert on gender-based consumer behavior. Her current focus is on sustainability from both the consumer and the organizational perspectives. Andrea contributes to the Huffington Post and provides sustainability-focused commentary for Vermont Public Radio.

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  • by Carol Blaha Tue Sep 16, 2008 via web

    Good article- the green movement is the triple bottom line-- people, planet and profit. The only way to avoid being greenwash is to avoid eco isolationism and pay attention to life cycle analysis. You can't have a recyled product in a non recyclable container made in a factory paying sub wages. If you are going to be green today, you have to be true green. Or consumers will see thru it as pure marketing hype.

  • by Diane Davidson Tue Sep 16, 2008 via web

    I particularly like and agree that women make decisions with their right and left brain. It is however, sometimes difficult to really evaluate if something is truly green or not without getting too technical in your communications. People vote with their wallets, so time will generally unmask the trulth behind those really committed companies and products.

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