Madis Päev

Why people don't buy eco-friendly products?

While eco-friendly, zero-waste, and green thinking have become a strong niche for climate change believers, there is a long road ahead to change it as a new normality.  There are a lot of big corporations who hate those ideas because they are part of the problem and they don’t intend to change as it will reduce those companies profit and “It has always been like that”.

For example, when they blamed wind energy as the cause of the Texas winter crisis in 2021 or when the Estonian government lies behalf of the businesses to avoid fines and at the same time they blame regular people that we don’t recycle enough, we consume too much and so on.

To summarize it: While companies keep producing waste at full speed and governments support it, they blame us for not thinking green enough.

Truth is, as consumers, there are certain rules which determine what products we use. If you want to convert non-believers into green thinking you should check if you apply those rules to your business. It can help your product become from a niche product to a commercial product.

The more commercial eco-friendly products we have, the better it is for environment.

Performance of the eco-friendly product


Let’s get straight to the business. While eco-friendly products solve the problem of “Saving the earth”, consumers buy products to solve their personal problems. From basic needs like food to high-end needs like fashion.

Research made by The University of Leeds and the University of East Anglia concluded that instead of highlighting the “eco-friendlyness” businesses should focus on the features that solve consumer problems.

The humble Co. eco-friendly product
The humble Co.

If you compare the main messages for The humble co. and Colgate you can see how much stronger Colgate message is. From the regular consumer point of view, Colgate solves a much bigger problem.

While The humble co. appeals really well to the target audience, this message does not resonate with most consumers. Only those who already is a fan of eco-friendly products.

You can’t fight consumer decision-making urges so why do it? Focus on the feature that solves consumer problems.

If you work on the marketing strategy, I suggest you to think in two layers – You should still appeal to niche customers while trying to convert new ones.

Convinience of usage


Everybody knows that fast food is bad for your health – no one really argues against it. Yet every fast food joint is full of people. It’s not super tasty but it’s so convinient, because its fast and always near by. As Mcdonalds said, they are in real estate business.

When you think about your product – are you there for consumers when they need it? The main idea of convinience product is that they are easily accessable, replacable and easy to consume.

To be convinience product, there are several mareting strategys to apply:

  • Wide distribution network. Often, we are not offered eco-friendly alternative when we are in need of fast solutions, like visiting amusement parks, cinema etc. It is eco-friendly businesses job to get their product out there to offer as an alternative choise.
  • Distribute coupongs and discounts in mass media like local news-paper or discount websites. This will help consumers choose eco-friendly product over other products as they feel like they get a better deal .
  • Make sure your package is on point – while you should think of easily composable package, you should also make it attractive to stand out from other products. It does not mean that you should use bright colors. Research what kind of design other competitors use and find a unique solution that stands out. Great first impression is a way for consumers to choose your product over others.

People do not buy eco-friendly products if they are not offered to buy one. At the same time, more and more consumers are willing to choose eco-friendly products. It is a great selling point for your business to get into convinience market.

Pricing of the eco-friendly product

It’s hard to compare eco-friendly production to massproduction – of course the first one is more expensive to make. At the same time, most people have limited amount of money to share between thousands of things like taxes, mortages, gas, food, clothing, entertainment, education and the list goes on.

When the eco-friendly product have marginally bigger pricing than non eco-friendly, then you really need to justify it. As we discussed in the first chapter of this article, often businesses highlight the “eco-friendlyness” but forget consumer problems. This is why consumers persive eco-friendly products too expensive, while paying thousand of dollars for new phone every year.

And let’s be fair – there are a lot of businesses that uses eco friendlyness to ask bigger price while the actually product cost is not that different from regular products. Those companies are a big part of Green washing problem.

What could you learn from this?


We tend to think that consumers don’t care about environment but that is disturbed reality. Consumers do care, but they care more about themself and selfishness is a big part of what being human is.

It is your job to solve their problem first and trough that solve the environmental issues. We are living in rapidly changing economy and eco-friendly is a popular keyword here. To me it seems, that while we want to change the world,  a lot of businesses can’t go past being a niche product.

There are a lot of businesses that do understand and play by the rules our capitalism is based on like Oatly and Tesla. There is a lot to learn from those companies if you really want to change the world more sustainable.

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