Category Archives: Environment

You can fool some of the people some of the time…But eventually even they catch on…

 

There is no substitute for being genuine. This is true in branding, it is true in life. You can create an illusion for only so long. Once people figure out what you are up to, they will leave quickly and in droves.

A new article in Fast Company makes the point that products which claim to be “green”, but are dubious in both formulation and origin, have not proven successful in the marketplace. Large corporations not typically thought of as eco-conscious, such as Chlorox or Arm & Hammer, both have found that the public is not terribly loyal to their cleaning products which lean heavily on “green” attributes. Similar experiences are found in food categories as well. When it comes to sustainability and the environment, you either “are” or you “aren’t”. As the old saying goes, you cannot be “a little bit pregnant”…

Successful purveyors to the environmentally sensitive consumer market stand for more than a product claim. They show their determination in many other ways, from how they give back to the community, to the values they espouse in the workplace, to the causes they support visibly and tangibly. It isn’t just a logo treatment, or the wording on the label, or a green dye added to the soap that makes the marketing credible.

The ranks of consumers who demonstrate their caring for the planet is growing beyond the segments that initially defined them (i.e., higher income, well-educated, predominantly female). Leaders such as Stonyfield, Seventh Generation and Kashi are growing faster than their categories are. Why? Because they embody the messaging of the brand across multiple dimensions, are seen as high quality, a good value, and, perhaps most of all, live up to the claims of their brands.

The lesson in this for all of us is as timeless as “to thine own self be true”.  Anything less, and you eventually will be found out.

The Fast Company article can be found at the following link:

http://www.fastcompany.com/1753171/method-only-inauthentic-green-cleaning-products-are-failing?partner=rss

The enormous power of collaboration and coalition…

Recall the old saw, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”? There are times in business when competitors are better off cooperating to drive market change than to face off against each other, denying any potential for synergy. I was reminded of this today as I listened to a collection of five agencies, any of which might have viewed the others as a competitor, delineate a unified approach  to elevate consumer values of sustainability and environmentally conscious decision-making.

In combining their respective strengths to support  a unique coalition that informs, educates, guides and rewards consumers for seeking and buying earth-friendly products and services, they are achieving far more than any single agency could do on its own. The common ground is moving the public that is neither an early adopter nor a disinterested laggard, to skew buying behavior toward brands that are eco-conscious.

What’s beautiful about this coalition (among many outstanding attributes) is that the portal to awareness, knowledge, consideration, trial, repeat purchase, loyalty and brand advocacy, is one that integrates a myriad of dimensions, any one of which is best-in-class. Together, they represent an undeniable force, capable of reshaping consumer behavior in the best possible way: to reduce our footprint on the ecosystems of the planet.  Surely anyone with children or grandchildren can appreciate the wisdom in that strategy.

As this “coalition of the willing” continues to build, one product, one brand at a time, there is a groundswell of support for both the message and the outcome it promises. Most people (in general) want to make “better” decisions, but share frustration in the lack of readily accessible, competent information as to what brands to seek, where to find them, and how they are different/better.

Food companies that market organic products, mass transits that cut fossil fuel consumption, natural and alternative cleaning products that help keep surface water pure, beverage bottlers which keep our kids free from unhealthy additives, and others from packaging companies to urban bike rental companies, are banding together to offer average citizens the opportunity to change what they do and how they do it for the better, and to be rewarded on multiple levels for doing so.

It was shared at a LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) reception in Minneapolis last night that socially conscious consumption is expanding across demographic and psychographic segments at an ever-increasing rate.  Those who were once considered “leading edge” in this regard are now actually  closer to the center, and the numbers are expanding. This is good for all of us, and bears many lessons from which we can all learn. Today, as I spoke with and listened to the wonderfully  diverse group that has come together to build EcoBonus® into what will surely become a centerpiece in the shift to a more enlightened future, I was inspired by  the power created when great intentions are channeled with undeniable energy around an idea whose time has come. For all the right reasons, marketing came together with intention, and in the process, gave us all another reason for hope.

When smarter choices make for a better world…

It isn’t very often a promotion creates as many “wins” as the up-and-coming EcoBonus® consumer coalition. Imagine a growing array of consumer products and services, numbering in the thousands, all of which are environmentally friendly, banding together to help purchasers make better decisions, while rewarding those buyers for their loyalty.

The sponsors “win” – by selling more and reinforcing a critical brand message around sustainability. The channels “win” – by drawing additional consumers into their stores and onto their websites. The consumers “win” – by earning valuable EcoBonus award points (which may be redeemed for thousands of ecologically sensible goods or services). And, best of all, our planet and future generations “win” by benefitting from increased consumption of earth-friendly goods.

The coalition concept is a terrific approach for driving consumer loyalty when faced with the challenge of offering up a meaningful reward for lower ticket/high frequency purchases. How much can an organic dairy-products brand, for example, afford to give back to consumers as a reward? Or a “green” line of household cleaners? The  price point simply can’t afford it. Discount coupons can induce trial. But how do you create multiple, ongoing purchase decisions in a space that is dominated by bigger, more promotionally oriented and less environmentally sensitive brands?

Aggregating rewards across a wide band of products and services makes too much sense. I can be rewarded for riding mass transit instead of taking my car to work or shop. I can realize multiple opportunities to be rewarded for making better choices around what I eat and what I use in my home. I am rewarded for buying CFLs instead of energy-hungry  incandescent lights. Bottom line: I earn rewards for making a difference.

On its own, no individual purchase is very significant. But when you create a community of like-minded products/services,  taken in sum, they become a pattern…a new behavioral path…and they migrate from an occasional one-off decision to a sustained lifestyle.

Visit http://www.ecobonus.info/blog to learn more.  If you or someone you know works in marketing, especially if the brand they work on plays in the “green” space, you should encourage her/him to look closely at this unparalleled promotional opportunity.  Feel free to contact me for more information on EcoBonus as well.

Note: EcoBonus® is a registered trademark of BI Worldwide (Minneapolis, MN)

Holiday wishes and a creative take on recycling…

First of all…no matter who you are, where you are, what you believe in, or if/how you celebrate holidays, I wish you all happiness, warmth, safety and comfort as we speed headlong into this season of new beginnings…

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s take a minute or two and celebrate the wonder of recycling, this time with help from our friends at Volkswagen (Italy)…

So what does recycling have to do with Christmas? And what does an ornament (other than one on the hood) have to do with a car? Not much. And that’s okay.  What matters is that their agency took a concept through to execution and cemented the VW logo with an important social message that, hey, before you toss it in the trash can, think about recycling it first.

I hope your holidays are filled with wonder, gratitude and peace. That’s a thought worth recycling, isn’t it?

An Opportunity To Connect And Collaborate On The Matter Of Sustainability…

You may or may not be familiar with LOHAS, an acronym for an important organization called “Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability”,  a group centered on driving positive change to support our natural environment. LOHAS member companies are deeply committed to profitably producing goods and services that serve a wide range of consumer needs, while maintaining a high degree of integrity around their impact on the earth.

In their own words, LOHAS ” brings together people, planet and profitability and is leading us into the next decade, sustainably, consciously and creatively.”

 On Wednesday, April 21st, from 6 – 8 pm, LOHAS will be hosting a by-invitation-only networking event in Manhattan. The great news is that as of today there are still some invites available to be had. If you visit the following site (http://lohasnyceventreception.eventbrite.com) you can still secure an invitation to attend. It will be a terrific opportunity to meet, connect with, share ideas and potentially collaborate with thought leaders and organizations that are committed to the matter of sustainability.

Sponsors who will be present at the event include Mohawk, PetCo, EarthSense, IceStone, Periage, EcoBonus, ingeo and others. I hope that you will be available to attend. If interested, there are a limited number of invitations yet available, and I would endorse that you secure yours asap.

See you there!

EventBrite site for invitation to LOHAS networking event in NYC on 4/21 at 6:00 pm

The story of “The Story Of Stuff”…

Thought-provoking commentary on the nature of “stuff”…such as bottled water…and how “manufactured demand” can create a tidal wave of collateral damage…

“The Story Of Stuff”, hosted by Annie Leonard, author of the book of the same name, and advocate to bringing “mindless consumerism” to a halt, is one site where both liberals and conservatives can find common ground. That’s the beauty of common sense.

If nothing else, you might think twice about picking up another case of Aquafina or Dasani water…and you just might spend $30 on a Britta instead.

I’ve attached three links for you to choose from, all of which will take you to some insightful conclusions.

The Story Of Stuff blog…featuring Annie Leonard

“The Story Of Bottled Water” video

Worldchanging.com – A site devoted to positive global change