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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Nevergreens

From my Iconoculture news feed comes this interesting story.

Despite rampant greenwashing and an increasing number of companies jumping on the alterna-fueled bandwagon, not all consumers believe their purchases can result in a cleaner, healthier planet. Skepticism does and will continue to play a key role as the environmental saga continues to unfold. And beyond skeptics, some consumers simply don't care beyond the moment.

There are people out there who just don't care. Or so it would seem, given the results of a new Mintel study which states that 10% of the U.S. population are skeptical, irritated and unmoved by environmental media ( 7.22.08).

And there could be more. According to Shelton Group, 26% of the population is unconcerned with helping the environment; they also tend to be upper income, middle aged and conservative males.

The Natural Marketing Institute puts the number of never greens at 17% of the population. These consumers are regarded as "unconcerned," give no priority to the environment, and show no environmentally responsible behavior (data from the 2008 Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability forum).

That said, these findings show that the majority of consumers are at least somewhat inclined to be environmentally aware as they're shopping. I've reported here occasionally about "green" efforts in the housing world, both in new build projects that are environmentally friendly and in ways to retrofit some green aspects into your home. I haven't been strident about it, just reporting it as interesting news.

One fascinating aspect of this story in Iconoculture is the wording and condescending tone that the article takes when discussing these never green people. I have little wonder that “10% of the population is skeptical, irritated and unmoved by environmental media”, in fact I’m surprised it isn’t higher. I’m not sure that would lead me to the conclusion that they just don’t care; more likely they just don’t like the reproving approach taken by that media segment.

The population segment that this story appeared under was the Baby Boomer/Matures demographic. Recall that Iconoculture draws three broad age-defined segments for their analyses – the Boomers/Matures, the Gen-Xers and the Millennials – sort of parents/grandparents, current family parents and children of the new Millennium. Since the Boomer/Matures generation has been tagged also as the “ME” generation – those of gluttonous and conspicuous consumption – it is not surprising that it would also be less concerned about the environmental damage that their excesses have and will continue to cause. Also remember that at least the Matures (aka. The silent generation) have always been somewhat retrospect about expressing their outrage over anything; save perhaps rising medical costs and taxes.

So, now my sociological group (I fall at the edge as a Mature or early Boomer) inherits yet another moniker – The Nevergreens. Maybe I can rearrange some of the titles to make sense for myself. Let’s see, how about Me Mature, Baby Boomers Never Green. I like it. After all we are the group that came up with that catchy 1960's ad theme - Give a hoot, don't pollute. Oops, was I being skeptical there?

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