Five Reasons Why Millennials Are Done With "Green" Brands

By: The Cleancult Team

July 11, 2017

How many times have you heard that millennials are the most sustainable generation of all time? Millennials are supposed to be the generation that’s solving climate change, reducing waste, and supporting green products around the world. The truth is quite different. If you dig deeper, even though millennials claim to support products and movements that are environmentally friendly, their actions in say otherwise. Millennials are actually done with green brands and here are the five reasons why.

1) Green Products Aren’t Readily Available

A study conducted by Ad Age surveyed millennials and asked them about green brands.

The problem that millennials face with green products, is that the marketing and distribution of these products is scattered and broken. Millennials claim that they want to support green products and brands, but they’re often hard to find. Even though most millennials want to buy green products, they’re not necessarily willing to go to the farmers market, order from a small boutique online, or go out of their way to find one. Green products simply aren’t as readily available as other competitors.

2) Green Products Simply Aren’t as Effective

Ask a millennial what they think of green cleaners and most will say the following. “I’m happy that they’re environmentally friendly but they just don’t work as well”. In a Cleancult interview video that asked millennials aged 18-30 what actually thought about green brands, this common response was a trend. The common response was that green cleaners smelled bad, were less effective, and didn’t satisfy their needs for a product. They appreciated the environmental safety and the added health benefits, but the current green products available on the market simply weren’t good enough. For green products and services to compete for millennial attention, they can’t just be environmentally friendly, they must also be as effective and well designed.

3) Millennial Sustainable Shopping Data Is Fallible

Studies by Sustainable Brands and Eco Pulse that claim over 75% of millennials are willing to spend more to buy products that support sustainability. The problem is that these studies were collected by surveys and questionnaires. None of these studies actually looked at and reviewed millennial spending behavior. The reality of their spending is actually very different from their intention.

Moreover, search trends for green products actually fell to 2012 levels. The truth is that with student loans, increased cost of living, and increased demand for consumer products, it’s tough to shop and commit to sustainable products in the current competitive landscape.

4) Marketing and Branding of Green Products Doesn’t Appeal to Millennials

Most millennials claim that they care about the environment and you’d assume that this care would be core to their identities. On the contrary, millennials are actually quite wary about traditional environmental labels. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, the data showed that only 32% of American millennials see themselves as environmentalists. This is in stark contrast to the 42% of Americans born between 1965 and 1980 who considered themselves as environmentalist and 44% of those born after 1945. Millennials now doubt environmental labeling and branding. With the increased greenwashing of products that falsely markets phony green brands, millennials are hesitant to buy products that have traditional natural brands. Moreover, this environmental branding leads to less confidence in the efficacy of the product as mentioned previously. The noise of greenwashing saturates the market, making truly green and effective brands less likely to be seen, heard and purchased.

5) Millennials Think Green Products Are Too Expensive.

A recent study conducted by RetailMeNow found that 4 out of 5 consumers think environmentally friendly items are more expensive than non-green products. Additionally, 3 out of 5 (61%) of these respondents would only consider purchasing an environmentally friendly product if it cost the same or less than a non-green product. Before the customer ever has a chance to see the product price, he or she has already assumed it’s more expensive because it’s green. There has been no data to back up this assumption that keeps millennials from ever considering a purchase.

Simply put, millennials have written off green brands. This article isn’t trying to undermine the environmental, sustainable, and conscious progress of the millennial generation. On the contrary, article is attempting to expose the truth of millennial purchasing choices. The truth is that millennial customers simply aren’t willing to compromise. In my experience as both a fellow millennial consumer and as the founder of the nontoxic laundry company Cleancult, we’ve learned how to best market sustainability. To market to millennials appropriately, you must first convince them of why you have the most excellent and best designed product and then support that with a sustainable supply chain. If companies radically shift their marketing, then we can have drastically different reality in millennial purchasing patterns and make their intention turn into action. The overall millennial spending power is roughly 3.5B dollars annually.

If this was to be spent with intentional and responsible purchasing, the global supply chain would be revolutionized.