In plain talk, they want no-sacrifice, cost-effective products that make it easy for them to be green.

While not exactly catchy, “greenvenient” is a word that may describe your customers’ attitude these days toward buying green plumbing and heating products. In plain talk, they want no-sacrifice, cost-effective products that make it easy for them to be green.

That’s the major finding presented byJack Suvak, senior director of Moen’s Market Research and Consumer Insights, at a breakfast for builders and media members during the International Builders Show in January. Moen’s study, “What Shade of Green Are You? A Consumer Perspective,” examines the impact of the recession on consumers’ attitudes toward green products. The study’s recommendations apply equally well to an audience of plumbing-and-heating contractors:

  • Embrace the current attitude toward green, which is, “How is it good for me, good for my family and good for the planet?”- in that order.

  • Help consumers make informed buying decisions based on evidence that addresses the perceptions that green products are more expensive than and don’t perform as well as conventional products.

  • Show your customers how they will get a direct return on investment from green products.

  • Focus on women because they remain a viable market for green products in the home. Keep in mind that you must connect messages and offerings directly to tangible benefits to her, her family or both.

  • Provide your customers with no-sacrifice, cost-effective options that make it easier for them to be green - or greener.

While this may come as no surprise to many of you, Suvak says about half of your customers possess little or no interest in green products. Of these customers, he describes 40 percent as “nongreen” and 10 percent as light green, which means they lack conviction and are cost-sensitive.

The shades of the other half of your customers either are medium or dark green. About 40 percent of these customers - the medium group - express a heightened awareness of green issues and are cost-conscious, particularly where green products can save them money. The 10 percent of your customers who are dark green make it their personal mission and responsibility to be green.

The sluggish economy and flood of green marketing claims have caused consumers to question the value of becoming a deeper shade of green, Suvak says. To back this point, he cites others’ research from late last year:

  • While 40 percent of consumers say they’re willing to buy green products, only 4 percent do so when given the choice.

  • More than half of consumers believe green products cost too much, and a third think they don’t work as well.

  • The volume of green products available to U.S. consumers increased 73 percent between 2009 and 2010, causing the number of consumers to actively seek out green products to plateau.

Despite this last finding, green products will continue to reach the market. Just remember that your customers have become more discerning in the last few years, and they’ll need more than a green claim when they decide which product to buy.

The good news is that you’ll be in an excellent position to provide expert advice to them. By recommending and installing products that perform well and reduce utility bills, you’ll help them reach their own level of greenvenience.