5 ways to tap the power of sustainability-minded parents

Speaking Sustainably

5 ways to tap the power of sustainability-minded parents

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Shutterstock Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley
Parents are primed to be a powerful block of energy-concious consumers.

When it comes to market research on demographic groups primed to make an impact on the sometimes-wasteful ways we use energy, the "concerned parent" segment is a big one.

In fact, this group is the largest of Shelton Group’s four energy consumer segments, representing over one-third (34 percent) of Americans. They are (attitudinally) pro-sustainability for a number of logical reasons:

  • Many are millennials, and climate change was a part of their school curriculum — they’re bought-in and worried
  • Per their name, most of them are parents, and they’re concerned about their kids’ health today and the earth they will inherit tomorrow
  • Most try to be good role models for their children
  • Many are first-time homeowners with average incomes, and they need to minimize household operating costs wherever possible

However, they’re also very busy. Most concerned parent households have two working parents struggling to achieve work/life balance.

If, at the end of the day, they’ve managed to fulfill their work responsibilities and get their kids from Point A to Point B, fed, washed and in bed at a reasonable hour, it’s been a pretty good day. It can be difficult to get their attention, and their time is precious.

On top of their hectic schedules, there’s another barrier to engaging them. Many sustainable products still carry premium price tags. Few concerned parents have a lot of savings or discretionary income, so it’s hard to get them to pay extra for more sustainable options.

But fear not, there are ways to engage them:

Invest in school education programs

This is the most effective communication method we’ve found to engage concerned parents. For example, kids learn about energy or water conservation at school and they bring that information, along with lots of (uncomfortable) questions, home to the dinner table. Most parents try to support their kids’ school projects, encourage good behaviors and be good role models — all of which leads to changes in behavior and new home improvement projects.

Be where they are 

They may be busy, but they spend a lot of time online — particularly on social media and streaming music sites. Use social media ads and fine-tune media and content placement based on their interests (Pinterest for kids’ Halloween costumes or birthday party theme ideas). Use re-targeting based on their searches.

Make them see what they’re leaving on the table

Concerned parents respond to loss avoidance. Rather than talking about "saving money," frame your messaging around "not wasting."

Focus on health and safety 

They’ll prioritize spending money on their home to make it healthier/safer. Feature the indoor air quality and thermal comfort benefits of your products. But don’t use that jargon. Talk about breathing easier, keeping kids cozy and healthy. And subtly imply that your product/company helps them be better parents.

Make your products smart 

They’re technology-oriented, and they control their lives with their phones — 34 percent are already monitoring or controlling some home function with a smartphone or tablet. Make sure your products, services and campaigns are mobile-optimized. Use apps, text-to-enter and notifications, and offer money- and time-saving smart home technologies they can control with their phone.

Finally, concerned parents need to be gently, subtly, reminded of their priorities and values. It’s really easy to forget those things in the day-to-day hustle.

Your messaging should go beyond functional attributes and money savings to connect to deeper emotional drivers, and it should feature call-outs that remind them of the things they really care about.

Give them the little nudges they need to better sync their purchases with their beliefs. And to the degree that you truthfully can, connect your products/services to their deepest desire — to be great parents.