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Real men don’t tote reusable shopping bags

Consumer Reports News: April 28, 2011 05:34 PM

Is green the new pink? Maybe so. More than 80 percent of respondents to a new study on sustainability said that going green is “more feminine than masculine.” And if men won’t carry reusable bags or water bottles, or drive a Prius, that’s a problem for marketers, says OgilvyEarth, which conducted the study. “Sustainability could use its Marlboro Man moment.”

“More men identified as Green Rejecters, and the ranks of the Super Greens were dominated by women,” said OgilvyEarth in a press release about its research, adding that most respondents were in the middle. But green’s image problem goes beyond gender differences. Those asked said that going green is too expensive, too niche and only for “crunchy granola hippies or rich elite snobs.”

Then there’s the guilt. “Green is a major mood kill,” said the study. “People told us they feel guilty about everything from their flat screen TV to their Sunday paper to their Christmas tree,” said OgilvyEarth. “Flooded with guilt, they want to retreat to the comfort of ignorance.”

In the study, 82 percent of respondents said they had good green intentions but only 16 percent were committed to fulfilling them. OgilvyEarth calls that the Green Gap and recommends some ways to close it, according to this excerpt from the report:

Make eco-friendly male ego-friendly. Carry a tote, give up your 4WD truck, wear hemp t-shirts, compost … the everyday domestic choices we need to make in favor of sustainability do not make the Nascar fan’s heart race.
Make it normal. The great Green Middle aren’t looking for things to set them apart from everyone else. They want to fit in.
Eliminate the sustainability tax. We’re taxing people’s virtuous behavior. The high price of many of the greener products on store shelves suggests that we are trying to limit or discourage more sustainable choices.
Lose the crunch. Just because a product is green doesn’t mean it must be packaged in burlap. We need to ditch the crunch factor of green and liberate ourselves from the stereotypes.
Hedonism over altruism. The study reveals the simple truth that people are motivated by things they enjoy doing, like having fun, so rather than making sustainability choices seem like a righteous thing to do, wise brands are tapping into enjoyment over altruism and seeking to hit the consumer’s “G-spot.”

Now that ought to get someone's attention.

Mary H.J. Farrell

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