Does Experience Make Boomers an Easier Green Target?

I recently attended Greenbuild 2015 where some interesting research was presented by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) about engaging consumers in discussions about sustainable living. Interestingly, the study conducted among home builders found an easier green target: buyers facing retirement age (55 and older) are most likely to demand specific, high-performance green criteria such as energy efficiency, healthier indoor environment and durability.

This seems to fly in  the face of numerous studies that show Millennials having greater interest in sustainability than older generations. Sure, income disparity must play a role, but in-depth interviews with homeowners as part of the study found that experience with homes is also a factor.

It makes sense, Baby Boomers are more likely to have owned a home and have direct experience with HVAC systems, insulation and repair bills.  Millennials may be interested in green building as a concept, but they have a harder time translating that into actionable purchase requests.  The recommendation to home builders is to market entry level homes based on overall sustainability and be prepared to educate buyers about what leads to a more sustainable home.  Whereas the approach in marketing retirement homes can be more straight forward in regards to specific performance features. It makes me wonder where else this experience gap may be making Millennials a tougher sell despite their general enthusiasm for more sustainable products and services.

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Ron Loch is Managing Director, Chicago, G&S Business Communications. In a competitive global marketplace, Ron helps businesses gain by doing good. A G&S veteran, Ron’s collaborations with global Fortune 1000 companies and green business start-ups have delivered strategic, integrated programs to gain value from sustainability efforts and commercialize clean technologies. Ron oversees publication of the annual G&S Sense & Sustainability® Study, which gauges public perceptions of the corporate commitment to environmental and social responsibility. He also moderates many of the firm’s thought leadership events, which have welcomed speakers from Businessweek, Burt’s Bees, Verizon, Time Magazine, The Sustainability Consortium, The World Food Prize Foundation, U.S. Green Building Council, U.N. Global Compact, and more. Ron graduated with a B.S. in Journalism and Mass Communications from Iowa State University and received a Master’s Certificate in Managing the Sustainable Enterprise from the Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business. He has also completed the certified GRI sustainability reporting curriculum. Ron hones his crisis management skills by tackling obstacles in Spartan races.


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