What’s wrong with the current preoccupation with all things green? I have friends who say the environmental initiatives sprouting like weeds are the consumer and the market taking control – AT LAST! - of issues the White House would rather ignore. A global, cultural surge towards sustainability. Something to applaud and encourage! Maybe. But I don’t believe everything green is worth celebrating this spring.
Considering we’re dedicating an entire week to Noam Chomsky videos, this might not be a popular opinion amongst my fellow UE bloggers or its readers. But lately I’ve been a bit more optimistic that market forces and our good old fashioned love of money will actually help save our “Planet in Peril.”
The shaving brand, Gillette, (Procter & Gamble) has been running a television commercial which shows actor Brandon Quinn in far-flung locations, and claims one ProGlide cartridge blade lasted him 5 weeks on the road. It is impossible to put a reliable number on how long a shaving blade lasts, not least because all the variables are personal: including skin type, hair type, tolerance for drag, etc. But the news is that the huge and successful marketing machine behind the Gillette brand has seen *now* as the moment to come forward with a blade longevity number.
Today is a watershed day for General Motors — and I’m not talking just about the historic and record-breaking initial public offering marking the company's return to the stock market, and away from majority ownership by the taxpayers. Today, Chevrolet, the company’s largest brand, announced it would invest $40 million in 8 million tons of carbon offsets — equivalent of roughly a year’s worth of driving the cars it will sell next year.
Green marketing, a movement so hot that not even a deep recession could kill it, is starting to show signs of consumer revolt. At the very least, it's a signal that green alone isn't enough of a marketing proposition; at most, it could signal consumers simply aren't buying the benefits of environmentally positioned products and brands.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission proposed changes in the "Green Guides" it issues to marketers "to help them avoid making misleading environmental claims." Maybe it should have issued complementary rules that require consumers to care more about eco-friendly products in the first place. Two surveys released last month find many consumers lacking enthusiasm for buying green goods, particularly if (as people suspect is typically the case) they'd have to pay a premium for them.
I like to step back periodically and look at why companies need to go green. Besides the inherent business logic of creating value by getting leaner or innovating to solve customer problems, what are the forces propelling this movement? Understanding this explicitly can help companies think about solutions systematically.
It's inevitable that as organizations navigate the complex world of sustainability, they will experience some internal cognitive dissonance about how they operate. Nobody said it was easy to balance the competing forces of (a) the inertia of how things have always been done, (b) the desire to meet the assumed needs of customers (for, say, welcoming, well-lit rooms), and (c) new pressures and questions about environmental and social performance. But forcing your customers to confront these choices or, worse, making them do the work themselves, is not a good option.
Wal-Mart's move to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its supply chain in the next five years is impressive. It's also an example of the world's largest retailer exerting a blunt form of regulatory vigilantism.
Brands are owned in the minds of target audiences and observers have been quick to redefine BP as “broken promise.” This broken promise is likely to manifest itself in lower stock prices, lower company valuation, boycotted gas stations and decreased market share and profitability over time.
While none of the Top 10 names in the fifth annual ImagePower Green Brands Survey -- led by Burt's Bees, Whole Foods Market, and Tom's of Maine -- are exactly shockers, the extensive survey did turn up plenty of other surprises.
Using stencils and high-pressure water sprayers, GreenGraffiti selectively washes down pavement, leaving behind “clean” words and images that gleam through the grime. Street artists have been using the technique, called “reverse graffiti,” for decades, but the firm is among the first to employ it for the purposes of publicity.
PepsiCo has come up with a novel plan to reduce the water consumption in its factories. It aims to recycle the water extracted from potatoes to run its potato chip plants in the UK. 80% of a potato is water and PepsiCo uses around 350,000 tons of potatoes annually.
In this idyllic town on the north slope of Mount Hood, an autopsy on three dead rainbow trout may play a role in Nestlé SA's efforts to reverse a deep slide in its bottled-water business. Bottled water, which for years delivered double-digit growth for Nestlé, is under fire from environmentalists. They decry the energy used to transport it and the use of billions of plastic bottles, and oppose efforts to use new springs, citing concerns about water scarcity.
Like motherhood and apple pie, corporate social responsibility has achieved iconic status as a feel-good pursuit. Corporations around the world have embraced its charitable philosophy and created divisions devoted to its pursuit. The problem, however, is that corporate social responsibility — by design and definition — can only go so far. Because no matter how widely a firm defines its reach, and how generous its leadership grows, the primary objective of any for-profit firm in a capitalist system will still be as Friedman described it: to maximize the returns of its shareholders. Or at least not to engage in any activity that undermines those returns.
Pepsi recently demonstrated its commitment to reducing its environmental impacts up and down the value chain with two rapid-fire announcements about new initiatives. The old-school approach to greening is to focus on operations within the proverbial "four walls." But Pepsi, like other leaders, is approaching sustainability more holistically, with much greater impact.
Forty years after the first Earth Day, greater pressure is being applied to brands to address environmental problems along with the problems of dirty clothes, financial services, technology, and convenient, quick-serve meals. Yes, more consumers hear the phrases "fuel-efficient," "organic,""energy-efficient," "natural," "green," and "sustainable" more these days, consumers are on to all that. They want brands to walk-the-talk, and "green" has become the cost-of-entry in many categories, making larger and larger contributions to brand engagement and loyalty.
So strong was the antibusiness sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins “to challenge corporate and government leaders.” Forty years later, the day has turned into a premier marketing platform for selling a variety of goods and services, like office products, Greek yogurt and eco-dentistry.
The following 10 companies stand out as prime examples of how social responsibility can be productively coupled with sound strategies to advance goodwill, while building sustainable and impressive businesses. They provide the leadership to demonstrate how marketers can pursue both objectives simultaneously. As such, socially conscious companies have stepped up their efforts with increasing effectiveness and productivity. It is an impressive movement and one that invites society at large to do even more. Let's use these as examples for "how to get it done" so that we can effectively expand our efforts to give back.
GreenBox understands the Purple Cow concept. They developed an innovative pizza box that sells itself. This pizza box is not just reusable and recyclable ... it’s also remarkable. The GreenBox breaks down into four serving plates and into a nifty container for leftovers. Have a look at marketing done right...
In the contemporary era of heightened green awareness and ‘ethical consumption’, major companies have quickly realised that consumers are looking for greener brands, writes Lynne Ciochetto. Design has played a key role in reinventing company profiles with new environmental messages, and designers should question these claims.
If any company seems well-positioned to both influence and profit from a generation of environmentally aware youth, it's Walt Disney Co. And Robert Iger, president and chief executive of Disney, insists the company is doing just that. Mr. Iger sat down with The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray to talk about the new green strategies the company applies to everything from its theme parks to its movie studios, as well as changes Disney has seen in consumer attitudes. They began the conversation by talking about the company's conservation campaign—Friends for Change—which so far has reached more than a million children, he says.
Judging from its branding and the griping of its competitors, Apple customers are hip, aware, and enlightened, yet its shareholders recently defeated resolutions to make the company more environmentally responsible and affirmed instead their uncool unconcern about anything other than profits. There isn't just a disconnect here, but an entirely topsy-turvy arrangement.
Richard Saul Wurman is an architect and graphic designer known for sparking debate. In 1984 he founded nonprofit TED and began holding annual events to stir up conversations about technology, entertainment and design. More recently, Wurman is appearing in Web videos to create chatter about a new topic: emissions, cars and the hope for a cleaner environment. Nissan Motor tapped Wurman and other thought leaders in December as part of a year-long marketing effort geared to make more people aware about the impact of emissions on the environment. Wurman and other luminaries, including Swedish designer Marcus Eriksson, appear on in videos a Web site called Journey to Zero that many might miss as being a message from Nissan.
When the Vancouver Olympic Games kick off on Feb. 12, visitors will find café furniture made from pine-beetle-salvaged wood, drink out of bottles made from 30% plant-based materials, and their beverages will be delivered via hybrid vehicles and electric cart. All are elements of Coca-Cola's first zero-waste, carbon-neutral sponsorship. The effort has been years in the making, beginning with a relatively simple recycling effort for the Athens Olympic Games in 2000. Since then the company has layered in additional elements, like environmentally friendly coolers and shirts made out of plastic bottles.
Audi hopes luxury car buyers will tune in to Super Bowl XLIV. The $2.8 million price tag for a 30-second commercial is high, but the ability to reach 95 million people in one day is important to Audi. It's a shot at distinguishing the company from big competitors, at a time when car marketers--particularly the luxury players--are reeling. Audi's U.S sales slid 5.7% to 82,716 cars sold in 2009, compared to the year before, according to Autodata.
Farewell and good riddance to the Decade of the Zeroes, when many people felt reduced to nothingness after two big economic bubbles burst. Welcome to the 2010s, a chance for a fresh start — sort of. The year opens with four trends that gained momentum in the past decade.
In what (if proven true) is slowly but simmering to become one of the biggest scandals in fashion this year, it’s recently come to light that Swedish clothing chain H & M has a little known practice of discarding and making unwearable unsold merchandise. While many large labels like the Gap have a similar practice for samples used in the design showroom (so they can’t be copied by competitors, or stolen from the studio), this revelation sheds a particularly disturbing light on the launch of their new Garden Collection.
Green is the new black. At Clownfish, we believe that it isn't a fad. Sustainability is here to stay. But for those who aren't experts in the field, it can often be complicated to navigate what products and services are actually doing the right things for the environment. How can consumers determine if a product is "green"? Are there ways to uncover whether a company is "greenwashing," or making false claims by using misleading PR tactics? Are your favorite brands throwing buzzwords like "environmentally friendly" around to cause confusion? Here's a list of 10 sustainability trends that consumers will be watching out for.
If you put an energy meter inside a home and show people total usage in real time, a miraculous thing happens: they use about 10 percent less energy. The simple act of placing data in front of people changes their behavior. Data makes people smarter and inspires them to make small changes to save money and energy. You can use this powerful tool in business not only to cut costs, but to drive innovation and revenues.
It doesn't only look beautiful, and it would make Jon Ive and Steve Jobs wet, but this naked Coca-Cola can would help save energy while reducing air and water pollution. Would it really make a difference? Let's do some math: I assume the consumption only increases through time, but let's take the daily 2007 numbers from Global INForM Cases Sales database: The total number of Coca-Cola cans sold per worldwide is 67,873,309. Diet Coke and Coke Zero sold 35,387,241, while My Coke sold 103,260,550. Yes, that's all per day.
Few things have changed faster than the way we communicate. Coupled with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or green movement, there has been an explosion of information available about how and what companies and organizations are doing to improve society and the environment. During the past year, at least three major events have influenced how communications relate to CSR.
“A fundamental reason why P&G has been in business for 172 years is the clarity and constancy of our company’s purpose—to touch and improve consumers’ lives with branded products and services,” said P&G chief executive and executive sponsor of sustainability Bob McDonald, in a statement. “To fulfill this purpose, we must grow responsibly and sustainably and ensure that company employees design strategies and programs that make a meaningful difference both in the environmental footprint of our products and our operations.”
Technologies and services that reduce natural resource consumption and emissions are the future of global growth, as well as the pathway to climate stabilization. In China alone, expectations are for a $1 trillion annual "cleantech" market by 2013. We are now entering a transition phase in cleantech, with focus shifting from technology to market commercialization. The winning technologies will win in large part because of marketing and communications. In the case of cleantech, it's not enough as a marketer to be a good practitioner of marketing. In a world of ever increasing sophistication and specialization, in-depth knowledge of key drivers is essential to success. That means a deep understanding of underlying technology, cultural perceptions, policy, and consumer and enterprise behavior.
We read and hear constantly about social responsibility -- what it means, how to do it, who does it best. Often anecdotal and top down, the cacophony of pundits is painful. It might be refreshing and even important to let real people tell us what brands and companies they see as socially responsible.
Green consumers are more concerned about saving money than saving the planet, according to new research from advertising agency the Shelton Group. The study found that while 59 percent of green consumers identify the economy as their top concern in making purchases, a mere 8 percent consider the environment.
Deservedly or not, industry gets accused incessantly these days of greenwashing. That industry can't be trusted to make truthful green marketing claims and provide information that is credible, straightforward, and useful is not surprising for several reasons.
We've finally moved beyond the eco____, green____, nature's ____, and over a decade later, we've finally stopped giggling like third graders every time we say "Prius" (which is a Latin word meaning "to precede" but sounds like, um, well, never mind). But with the coming of the Nissan Leaf, announced last week, we were befuddled. Really? Leaves are supposed to be what your sleek new fuel-efficient vehicle kicks up as you zip more responsibly through the streets. Right?
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unveiled an environmental labeling program for the products it carries, in a step that could redefine the design and makeup of consumer goods sold around the globe but also boost costs for suppliers and customers.
In a recent interview with Fast Company, Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard offers his thoughts on running an environmentally conscious business and what is on his mind - the “myth of sustainability”, an ideal he sees as a path rather than a destination.
With Cause-Related Marketing (CRM) growing increasingly more popular as Fortune 500 companies "go green" and try to be socially responsible, advertisers and marketers should be aware that the "framing" or presentation of the cause is critical to consumers. People are more willing to purchase products and support causes that have an immediate or short-term benefit to a non-profit than a future or long-term benefit.
In an economy as whacked out as this one is globally, the tired "customer is king" adage is actually a wicked understatement. Consumers have seemingly infinite choices from good brands--many of them desperate to move the merchandise to generate cash and survive. In an unforgiving marketplace like the one we are enduring, brands better build products and services around real, differentiated and defensible insights. "Here's what I hope you want to buy" is a merchandising strategy for failure.
Consumer product companies have been cutting down on extraneous packaging for good reasons. The rise in raw material, energy, manufacturing and transportation costs, coupled with the rise in consumers' environmental consciousness all play a part in reducing packaging.
The bad economy and a fundamental shift in the market for luxury goods are forcing an industry that reveres names like Chanel and Versace to embrace a different icon: Mother Nature.
To say that teens are leading the green movement is not only untrue but unrealistic as well. Even though they and their Millennial siblings are known to be the most environmentally educated generation, they're not assertively taking action on their knowledge. When it comes to brand involvement in green issues, however, they have a nuanced view.
Green may be the new black, but not for the reasons you might expect. "Colorblind," a cross-industry, cross-country study of consumers' "green" attitudes and behaviors conducted by Communispace Corporation in partnership with Design Continuum, reveals that there are many reasons people do (and don't) engage in sustainable practices themselves or favor brands that do.
There's a growing school of thought that unfettered information about the environmental impacts of our world will smoke out the bad guys and help the good guys win. I wish it were that simple.
While supermarkets have been urging customers to think greener by buying local produce for years, in a sign of the times, Safeway says it is launching a new initiative that also promotes locally grown produce as a way to boost California's sputtering economy. What's more, in order to do so, the Pleasanton, Calif.-based grocery giant is taking a swipe at fast-growing farmer's markets.
GoodGuide, a Web site and iPhone application that lets consumers dig past the package’s marketing spiel by entering a product’s name and discovering its health, environmental and social impacts. “What we’re trying to do is flip the whole marketing world on its head,” said Mr. O’Rourke. “Instead of companies telling you what to believe, customers are making the statements to the marketers about what they care about.”
Whether we are talking about innovation, technology or public policy, we often come up with solutions that creating more problems than they are supposed to solve. Given the enormous complexity and almost un-manageable challenges ahead, what do we need to do? What seems to make sense doesn’t do it anymore.
An environmental theme ran through Amazon.com Inc.'s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday – though it wasn't intentional, according to the CEO.
The world is changing. The current economic crisis is causing people around the globe to reevaluate their priorities. Several themes are taking shape, and brands that can most quickly embrace them will be the ones best poised to prosper, even during hard times.
With sales of hybrid vehicles sinking, a green-advertising battle is erupting between Toyota Motor's new Prius and Honda Motor's new Insight. Beginning today, Toyota, the world's largest auto maker, is rolling out a major U.S. ad push for its 2010 Prius, the third generation of the world's top-selling hybrid vehicle. The car hits dealerships in the coming weeks.
Frito-Lay's SunChips was hardly alone in making a "green" announcement on Earth Day -- in fact, the marketing hills were alive with the sound of "greener than thou" releases.
When it comes to selling green products in a bleak economy, researchers at the Hartman Group say marketers may be missing a major opportunity: Using labels to create a story line.
What do Netflix, Peet's Coffee, and Apple all have in common? Maybe more than meets the eye. First off, each of these companies is defying expectations with stocks that continue to rise-- despite the recession. But how are they doing it? Could it be that the green qualities these companies have are inadvertently helping them beat the recession?
The phrase "going green" conjures up images of short showers, small houses, tiny cars--basically, minimal consumption. But according to Albert Esser, Vice President of Power and Data Center Infrastructure Solutions at Dell, green IT is a different story.
It looks like America's growing willingness to roll up its sleeves and get its hands dirty is due to more than the recession, as marketers like the Clorox Co., Church & Dwight, and SC Johnson continue to roll out products that appeal to the moment's perfect trifecta of values: Cleanliness, thriftiness, and transparency.
US households are continuing to pay more for "green", environmentally friendly household products, defying a broad trend of shoppers "trading down" to lower priced goods and retailers' own-label brands
Samsung and Toshiba may be the most sustainable brands for consumer laptop and PC buyers, but Dell wins out with the IT crowd according to a new study from Green Factor. Marketing intelligence firm Strategic Oxygen surveyed over 3,500 CIOs, IT managers, and CXOs in 11 countries to find out what they consider the greenest IT brand out of 26 possible choices.
After all the fuss, Dell's finally revealed the first machine in its Adamo line of notebook PCs. As expected, it's pretty high on the luxury scale and correspondingly high in price. And surprisingly not so high in terms of specs.
In a new program centered on Earth Day, eBay is becoming the latest company to promote its green credentials.
While severe financial woes may hold back some eco-initiatives, the future has never looked greener. Mainly because creating more a sustainable economy is not an option, but a necessity. Which is why this month, amidst crumbling banks, G20 meetings and stimulus plans, we highlight 12 eco trends that any marketer or entrepreneur can act on today.
Toyota is looking to a greener future — literally — with dreams of an ultralight, superefficient plug-in hybrid with a bioplastic body made of seaweed that could be in showrooms within 15 years.
One way of looking at Mintel's latest data on green shoppers is that hard-core environmentalists are as committed as ever. The Chicago-based market research company says that 36% of consumers surveyed say they almost always or regularly buy green goods. That's unchanged since last year, and considering what's happened to consumer prices as well as incomes in that year, that's pretty impressive. But what is different is that the percentage shows no growth, when in the prior year, it tripled.
Best Buy is expanding its recycling program to all U.S. stores next month, and while it will charge $10 for many items, it will also reward customers with a $10 gift card. Experts say the move shows how important it is to link doing the right thing with the immediate impact of cost benefits for consumers.
As Kermit the frog used to say, " Its hard being green'. This is especially true in tough times, when the temptation is to leave green marketing initiatives on the back burner. Here are a few reason why you shouldn't, as a marketeer, forget about what "brand social responsibility" (BSR) can do for your brand in 09.
Troubled times call for ingenious solutions and, from green coal to hydrogen-fuelled ships and the birth of "transumption", here are some of the brightest. Lucy Siegle explains the latest ecovations.
The Ford Fusion hybrid will be the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan on the market when it arrives this spring, clocking in at 41 miles per gallon, according to data given to Ford Motor by the Environmental Protection Agency. It's a huge marketing gain for Ford as it attempts to green up its image and improve fuel efficiency across the board.
Restaurants have an overflowing plate of objectives for 2009. In addition to a core focus on delivering ever more value and convenience, they'll be expanding healthy kids' meals, locally sourced menu options and sustainability initiatives, according to National Restaurant Association survey findings included in the association's 2009 industry forecast.
With the economy a shambles and the U.S. auto industry in ruins, it's a better bet than ever that more and more consumers will be eager to throw off the shackles of car ownership and become transumers instead.
Consumers are increasingly putting plastic shopping bags and non-green wrapping items on their naughty list, according to Deloitte’s 2008 Annual Holiday Survey.
President-elect Barack Obama wants America to kick its addiction to foreign oil. He also wants the energy industry to go "green" and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide it produces — CO2 that causes global warming. Cutting back is easy enough when energy and oil prices are sky-high. But as Obama said on a recent CBS News 60 Minutes program, our memories are short.
Promising a slew of new green vehicles, the troubled Detroit automaker is turning to top design firms to make those cars innovative and appealing.
Data from Nielsen Co. show that, in June, sales of organic items began declining. Tom Pirovano, director of industry insights for Nielsen, said the category had done well until then.
A chief executive officer wields an awesome power over his companies’ policies, employees and principles—and just how sustainable each will be. So when a previously ungreen CEO decides to adopt an ecologically responsible agenda, the effects can be wide-reaching, and exceptionally inspiring.
The Big Three auto makers will submit recovery plans to Congress on Tuesday that emphasize cost-cutting, downsizing and renewed emphasis on higher-mileage cars in a bid to win support for a federal bailout.
When it comes to "green" consumer electronic brands, consumer perception does not match reality, according to GreenFactor, a joint study from research firm Strategic Oxygen and PR agency Cohn & Wolfe.
From the music blaring through the speakers to the waste that piles up in trash cans behind the bar, night clubs have never had a reputation for being particularly green. Yet recently, several clubs like Temple Nightclub in San Francisco, Surya in London and Watt in Rotterdam have put energy conservation and sustainability at the top of their agendas.