Are your sales doubling year over year? The sales of Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffees are growing at an approximately 100% annual rate. During the time period of 2005-9, right in the heart of the 2008 recession, green-cleaner sales grew 229%. And last year, a tough year for many companies, Organic Apparel/Home Textiles sales were up 35%.

Buying green has gone mainstream. The Shelton Group, a nationally recognized focus-group research company, reports that 64% of Americans are buying green. Cohn & Wolfe’s most recent global brand survey found that “environmental consciousness” is now a fourth pillar in consumer branding alongside trustworthiness, caring about the customer and product quality (view video interviews of leading thought-leaders discussing green consumer buying behaviors).

The four distinct consumer segments pioneering the use of green products are:

  1. The Millennial Generation. Second only in population to the Boomer Generation, the Millennial Generation sees sustainability as their future. They link being green to being “cool.” They view iTunes and the entire internet/mobile/digital cloud as an example of how going green will “cost less, mean more.”
  2. Concerned Caregivers, our moms. They view going green as a wellness issue. Their annual $8.5 billion of buying influence is propelling the revenue growth of products that solve a wellness concern for themselves and their loved ones.
  3. Sustainable CEOs. Corporate America has discovered the link between lower emissions and lower costs. Companies like Wal-mart are re-engineering their global supply chains to achieve lower emissions and costs. Pioneering companies like Ford and P&G are re-shaping their product strategies to capture green revenues.
  4. Buy Local Communities. Consumers view their local merchants as being trust worthier than Corporate America or the Federal government. Grass roots buy-local efforts are emerging in cities across America in pursuit of solutions for their community’s health and prosperity.

There is a “Secret Green Sauce” to growing revenues that has emerged as best practices used by actual companies achieving year over year sales growth by going green. Their “key ingredients” are:

  1. “Cost less, mean more” pricing. Consumers expect both competitive prices and me-oriented solutions to their future and wellness concerns. 85% of consumers say they will buy the more sustainable product or service vs. the less sustainable product or service IF THEIR PRICES ARE EQUAL! The companies that are achieving year over year sales growth have succeeded in competitively pricing their sustainable goods and services.
  2.  “Prove it, conclusively” branding. Consumers are confused. They don’t know what to buy and who to buy from. The companies that can “prove it, conclusively” with credible third party validations are winning consumer trust and sales. Clorox’s Greenworks cleaning products pioneered this strategy when they gained the Sierra Club’s endorsement.
  3. “Know it, embrace it” marketing. Because of the low trust that consumers have of advertising they are shifting toward a self-education search for what is real and to surface which businesses are making greenwashing product claims. Their process is one of learning, experimentation and then procurement. This process typically involves peer sharing via the internet/mobile cloud and/or participation in special interest activity groups like neighborhood gardens. The result is a “green cloud” of interactive, collective knowledge-collaboration (“knowing what to buy”) and then procurement “embracing it.”

From this market research I inserted a pricing/consumer adoption-curve into my professional economic analysis to estimate the scale and timing of this green market place. This economic analysis projects a $10 Trillion global annual revenue market for sustainable goods and services by 2017 ($10 Trillion represents approximately 20% of the world’s annual commerce). The Secret Green Sauce consist of the best practices of actual companies growing year over year sales, even in this tough economy, by offering sustainable goods and services that are competitively priced, with high levels of credible third party accreditations and a marketing program that facilitates the Awareness Customer’s learning, experimentation and then procurement process.

Author:  Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017 and author of The Secret Green Sauce.