05/31/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Know Women (Moms), Know the Sustainably-Minded Consumer: Part 2

As I pointed out in Part 1, the women's market is a great place to start to decipher sustainably-minded consumer behavior. In this post, I make the case that moms may well represent the sweet spot of that mindset.

If "having a baby changes everything" is true in general for moms (as the now-classic Johnson & Johnson ad campaign put it), it is perhaps doubly (exponentially?) so for the ways in which having a baby changes how both parents experience life with a more sustainable perspective. And, if marketers want to better "know sustainably-minded consumers," they can't go wrong by studying the interests and buying behaviors of women who happen to be moms. If those women have become so passionate about "green living" that they are now committed to writing a blog, even better.

"Green mom" bloggers self-label as such, and are so committed to whichever stage of sustainable life practice they are in -mainstream green to super green - that they devote hours to the research and writing of their blogs. These women are compelled to share insights and experiences - good and bad - with their readers, and are holding brands to all of their sustainability claims.

To better understand this segment, I recently partnered with The Social Studies Group to research the Green Mom Eco-cosm. In the course of that study, we got an insider's view of the influences, convictions and motivations of women who blog about their green mom experiences. Extrapolating from that research and given my observations of emerging "green consumer" trends, I'd personally submit that the behavior of the women in this Eco-cosm also likely reflects the broader, gender neutral, "sustainably-minded consumer" mindset. A few specific insights from our study include:

  • A desire to lessen negative environmental impact. Differences in motivations and ideologies aside, the women of the green mom eco-cosm are joined together by a desire to lessen their negative impact on the environment, even if the steps they take vary.
  • A belief that sustainable steps are a journey. The Green Mom Eco-cosm sees their own processes and those of the brands trying to serve them as a journey. They respond to, and will reward, corporate/brand steps in a more environmentally sound direction.
  • A consumer segment growing in size and influence. Peering through online windows into their homes and lives, as we did in this study, made it apparent that the size and influence of this particular population of green moms was growing. This is not a segment to look at once and be done with, but one to serve well for immediate and future reference.

It is worth noting that self-labeled green moms like those in the Green Mom Eco-cosm are serving as both thought leaders for larger populations and industry watchdogs. They put themselves at the crux of the issue and the marketplace, and make it their work to share with readers how and why they buy, and which brands are serving them best to maintain their loyalty. Through the commitment of these women and the reverberating power of social media, the Green Mom Eco-cosm wields incredible influence in the broader consumer marketplace. They represent the voice of the toughest of the tough, sustainably-minded consumer.

To be clear: Goods and services obviously sold just fine before marketers focused on women. However, when brands tightened their focus and really worked on understanding the marketplace - ta dah - they were staring at the expectant faces of women. It is no surprise that both product development and marketing have become much more relevant since that moment in time.

The next wise business step, around which corporate practices and marketing will (should) refine even further, lies in the sustainability realm. The smartest brands will develop sustainable methods and products to serve the growing consumer expectations of the most influential market segment around - moms. When they learn to serve this group well, the good news will soon reach all sustainably-minded consumers.