Spring 2011
Group Buying for Greenies By Haley Shapley

A new website offers big discounts on eco-conscious products and services.

Consumers with an eye on their pocketbooks have had a whole new way to save money the past couple of years, with a 21st-century twist on coupon-clipping: group-buying sites. These sites — the two biggest examples being Groupon and LivingSocial — offer a product or service at a deep discount, boosting business for retailers and savings for customers.

Given the win-win nature of the business model, the number of websites offering these daily deals has skyrocketed recently. It’s a tough market to stand out in, but new-kid-on-the-block GreenDeals.org is doing just that, thanks to its exclusive focus on eco-friendly businesses.

How it works

The brainchild of Jonah Mytro, the president of Boston-based Q4 Marketing and Media Group, a boutique Internet marketing firm, GreenDeals officially launched in January and is quickly gaining steam. “Our goal is to highlight [green] businesses and provide them a performance-based sales model to reach new consumers,” Mytro says. “On the other end, we want to provide consumers an opportunity to try out and learn about new green companies, while saving some money.”

The site currently offers two types of deals. The first is a coupon that is purchased on their site and is available to redeem online at a merchant’s e-commerce site. These include offerings such as 15 percent off at EdenFoods.com, a natural food company. The second type of deal is a product sale, like 41% off a box of organic chocolates or 60% off a green cleaning kit. Consumers typically have 24 to 72 hours to purchase a particular deal.

The site also features a helpful green tip, rotated a few times a week. A recent tip urged readers to consider a space heater, which costs about $80 but has the potential to save more than $1,000 a year.

Instead of charging an upfront cost to be featured, GreenDeals takes a percentage of each deal sold. “It’s a performance-based marketing opportunity — there are no out-of-pocket expenses by the advertiser,” Mytro says.

Keeping it green

The site is a partnership between Q4 Marketing and Media Group and Green America, a green economy organization founded in the early 1980s. Every company featured on GreenDeals is part of Green America’s Green Business Network and has been vetted to ensure it’s a true eco-conscious business. Vendors or retailers interested in participating must belong to the network. Membership in the Green Business Network starts at $85 a year for companies with annual revenues less than $500,000 and goes up from there. (Mytro’s mother, Denise Hamler, co-founded Green America and is now the director of the Green Business Network.) “In the review process, they’ll look at anything from sourcing of products to manufacturing to the shipping,” Mytro says. A three-person team is dedicated to reviewing the applications; the process takes from four to eight weeks for each business.

According to Green America, all companies that are part of the Green Business Network use business as a tool for social change; are “values-driven” in addition to profit-driven; are socially and environmentally responsible in the way they source, manufacture and market their products, and run their offices and factories; and are committed to employing extraordinary and innovative practices that benefit workers, communities, customers and the environment.

A growing customer base

While GreenDeals appeals to those who are specifically looking for earth-friendly goods, the founders are also hoping to attract newbies to the green revolution. “We are looking to reach all consumers who are interested in living greener through green products and services,” Mytro says. To do that, they’re running social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter to spread the word, as well as using search engine optimization and search marketing on Yahoo! and Google.

GreenDeals has an e-mail database with more than 130,000 consumer members and continues to add more. “Whether you see a direct sales increase from that campaign or not, there’s still a very large brand impact that the company will experience being an advertiser,” Mytro says.

For now, the focus is on national deals that can be redeemed by anyone across the country. Later this year, GreenDeals plans to offer location-specific deals in Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Chicago; and Seattle.

For more information, visit www.greendeals.org.

Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is a Seattle-based freelance writer who 
specializes in retail, travel and health topics. Learn more at www.haleyshapley.com.

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