Eco-Conscious Meets Cost-Conscious at P&G
By Tom Ryan
While Procter & Gamble’s Future Friendly initiative aims to clear up
the confusion around how to be eco-friendly, it is also designed to remove
the perception of high prices that keeps consumers from buying green products.
Unlike other CPG brands that have come out with environmentally-friendly
products under umbrella brands at premium prices, P&G will be promoting
some of the products it already sells — among them, Tide Coldwater, Pur water
filters, Cascade dishwasher detergent and Gain detergent — as ecologically
oriented, while maintaining prices. Combining familiar, trusted brands along
with the value message, P&G is hoping to lead mainstream consumers to conservation
while creating excitement around staple categories for retailers. The new green
consumer education platform – including television commercials, digital ads,
social media, package labeling and displays – is slated for a March 29 national
rollout by 115 grocery/club retailers for a total of about 15,000 stores.
To qualify for the Future Friendly designation, products must provide "measureable
and meaningful" savings in one of three areas: energy, waste and water.
About one dozen products/brand franchises currently meet the criteria.
At a news conference in New York on Tuesday, P&G execs identified three
types of green customers:
- Dark Green, representing 17 percent of consumers, will pay more and sacrifice
performance for eco-friendly product;
- Basic Living, also representing 17 percent, have no interest in green
products, even being offended by the sustainability message;
- Sustainable Mainstream, making up 68 percent, are interested in helping
the environment but aren’t willing to sacrifice price or performance.
"They want to do the green thing but they don’t want a product that
doesn’t meet their needs or costs more," said Glenn William, P&G’s
external relations manager.
That finding is backed by a survey conducted January 29 – January 31 by Ipsos
Public Affairs. When asked what two factors were most important when deciding
which product to buy, price came in first at 41 percent; followed by performance,
38 percent. The impact on the environment came in at 22 percent.
Saving money was also the most frequently mentioned reason why consumers
would take measures to reduce waste, save energy and save water in their home,
at 64 percent. (Coming in second was Preserving Resources for Future Generations,
On the positive side, 74 percent reported they would switch to another brand
if it helped them conserve resources without having to pay more and 69 percent
reported they would recommend the product to others under those conditions.
But Future Friendly also addresses the confusion or skepticism over eco-products.
Asked why they don’t by green products, ‘Not Having Enough Information’ was
the top answer, at 37 percent, even higher than ‘Costs too much’, 29 percent.
‘Not Having Enough Interest’ came in at 36 percent, and ‘Too Complicated,’
As such, rather than a guilt message about not doing enough for the environment,
Future Friendly focuses on making it easy for consumers to find and use products
that help save energy and water, and reduce waste. In-store signage reads "Simple
Choices. Meaningful Results." Under the Reduce Waste heading, a shelf-strip
for Pampers Cruisers reads, "Our lightest diaper ever, with 14% Less Material." P&G
execs also noted that consumers link saving water and energy to saving money,
but some signage talks directly to saving money. A Save Energy heading reads, "Save
up to $18 a year by switching to cold with Tide Coldwater HE."
For retailers, the use of existing brands such as Tide and Duracell that
consumers "already know and trust" offsets the risks of encouraging
consumers to switch to new products, according to Duncan Love, P&G’s associate
director of strategy and marketing. Upgrading the eco-content of existing brands
also makes it "simple to accomplish"
for stores when coming up with new brands runs counter to SKU rationalization
trends. Various options are also available to tie eco-messages to local communities.
But Mr. Love said bringing innovation to categories ultimately drives trips
and basket rings. After price and performance, P&G’s research shows eco-impact
now rates as an important purchase driver. While downturns have crushed conservation
movements in the past, Mr. Williams said, "The recession didn’t kill the
Discussion questions: Will the Future Friendly initiative help bring conservation
efforts to mainstream consumers? What elements of the program will be critical
to its success?
- P&G Launches Initiative to Make Conservation of Natural Resources
More User Friendly – The Procter & Gamble Company/PRNewswire
- Procter Goes Greener With ‘Friendly’ Persuasion – The New York Times