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The New Green Marketing Paradigm

17 Feb

Having once been an evolution in itself, “green marketing” continues to evolve and adapt to our ever-changing environment. Originally posted by Marketing: green.

by Jacquelyn A. Ottman, Yesterday, 9:52 AM

Conventional marketing is out. Green marketing and what is increasingly being called “sustainable branding” is in. According to the new rules of green marketing, effectively addressing the needs of consumers with a heightened environmental and social consciousness cannot be achieved with the same assumptions and formulae that guided consumer marketing since the post-war era. Times have changed. A new paradigm has emerged, requiring new strategies with a holistic point of view and eco-innovative product and service offering.

Historically, marketers developed products that met consumers’ needs at affordable prices and then communicated the benefits of their brands in a memorable way. Paid media campaigns characterized by ads with catchy slogans were de rigueur. Green or “sustainable” marketing and branding is more complex. It addresses consumers’ new heightened expectations for businesses to operate and requires two strategies:

1. Develop products that balance consumers’ needs for quality, performance, affordability, and convenience with the lowest impact possible on the environment, and with due concern for social considerations, e.g., labor, community.

2. Create demand for the resulting brands through credible, values-laden communications that offer practical benefits while empowering and engaging consumers in meaningful ways about important environmental and social issues. These communications represent value to consumers for what they provide functionally and what they represent, and often positively reinforce the manufacturer’s track record for sustainability as well.

The new rules being laid down by today’s eco-conscious consumers cannot be addressed with conventional marketing strategies and tactics. Brand builders in the 21st century are accountable to tough new standards. Sustainability represents deep psychological and sociological shifts — not to mention seismically important issues — as did one of its predecessors, feminism, which forced marketers to develop more convenient products in step with two-income lifestyles and to portray women with a new respect.

Meeting the challenges of today’s level of green consumerism presents its own mandates for corporate processes, branding practices, product quality, price, and promotion. To realize that the rules of the game have changed in a big way, one need only recall the unsavory backlash that is now occurring over what is perceived by environmentalists, regulators, and the press as inconsistent and often misleading eco-labels and messages.

The resulting deluge of skepticism, confusion, and regulatory nightmares that spurious green claims — dubbed “greenwash” — are spawning in the marketplace proves that environmental marketing involves more than tweaking one or two product attributes and dressing up packages with meaningless and often misleading claims. Too many marketers are learning the hard way that leveraging environment-related opportunities and addressing sustainability-related challenges requires a total commitment to greening one’s products and communications.

Green marketing done according to the new rules also affects how a corporation manages its business and brands and interacts with all of its stakeholders who may be affected by its environmental and social practices.

The seven strategies for green marketing success

Under the new rules, the currency of sustainable branding is innovation, flexibility, and heart. I have formulated seven strategies which I believe can help businesses address these deep-seated and lasting changes in consumer sensibility. Reflecting our learning from working with sustainability leaders over the past 20-plus years, they can be summarized as follows:

1. Understand the deeply held environmental and social beliefs and values of your consumers and other stakeholders and develop a long-term plan to align with them.

2. Create new products and services that balance consumers’ desires for quality, convenience, and affordability with minimal adverse environmental and social impacts over the life of the product.

3. Develop brands that offer practical benefits while empowering and engaging consumers in meaningful ways about the important issues that affect their lives.

4. Establish credibility for your efforts by communicating your corporate commitment and striving for complete transparency.

5. Be proactive. Go beyond what is expected from stakeholders. Proactively commit to doing your share to solve emerging environmental and social problems — and discover competitive advantage in the process.

6. Think holistically. Underscore community with users and with the broad array of corporate environmental and societal stakeholders.

7. Don’t quit. Promote responsible product use and disposal practices. Continuously strive for “zero” impact.

It’s Time To Make The Next Wave

10 Feb

Was “going green” just a fad? Originally Posted by Marketing: Green.

by Michael Martin, Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 8:15 AM
I’m hearing scary statements from marketing people lately. “Green is so last year.” “Green is out.” “Green is dead.”
Meanwhile, several green-themed television shows have been cancelled. Sun Chips bailed on a compostable bag for most of its SKUs. The climate legislation failed in Congress even after the Gulf disaster, the worst environmental disaster in memory.

Just last week, the Harris Poll on America’s Green Attitudes concluded, “Between 2009 and 2010, fewer Americans are now ‘going green’.” Harris found consumers less likely to engage in such “green behaviors” as using less water or buying organic and local produce and products.

Wouldn’t it be great if all of our environmental problems were solved because some corporations got behind “green” for a couple of seasons? That would be great but it isn’t going to happen. Business has a stake in the environmental game, and the clock is running out. All things being equal, consumers will support those brands doing the right thing for the planet over those that don’t. More than simply associating with “green,” driving it is essential to a sustainable economy and society and business needs to take the driver’s seat.

I’ve seen this wave crest and fall before. Two decades ago, the environment was the topic after the Exxon Valdez and Union Carbide Bhopal disasters, only to fade out. Corporate and institutional mistrust ran high back then, and environmental groups had not made the fundamental economic arguments needed. In 2005, when the current green wave swelled, a level of public sentiment was established and the “it will save us money” argument took hold with corporations.

Now that some marketers think green is falling, it’s time to start the next wave. I say this because government can’t institutionalize change the way business can. We need to respond to the exceptional threats to the planet. We also need to answer to the millions of influential consumers for whom the environment remains a priority.

That means green-thinking marketers need to do three things:

1) Keep your convictions. Pollution, climate change, rainforest destruction, species extinction and fresh water shortages aren’t taking a timeout while talking heads debate them or some consumers tire of hearing about it. For example, the 2010 General Accounting Office report shows that perchlorate, a main ingredient in rocket fuel and one that can cause significant thyroid issues, was found in the water supplies and soil in 45 states. There are 15 other toxic chemicals found in our drinking water right now that we need to clean up as well.

2) Repackage the conversation. As marketers, we have to do what’s ultimately right for the sustainability of our brands (and companies, careers, economy and society) and to sell it however the market will buy it. If “green” doesn’t excite consumers, rewrite the playbook. Take on the issues they prioritize that still benefit the environment. A campaign for local foods becomes more about fresh flavor and higher nutrients than the environmental impact of food miles.

3) Work with the government. Despite what some would have you believe, both Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson are passionately pro-business. They’re looking for new ways to bolster the economy and environment together. They have mandates and budgets for green jobs and green innovation. Study their sites, make a call, and enlist their help.

The same Harris Poll that showed Americans fading on green noted that while Americans are taking fewer environmentally sound actions, a greater number of us (a 20% increase, in fact) see ourselves as “conservationists,” “environmentalists” or “green.”

In the perception world of brand marketing, then, green matters more than ever. While for years marketers have only had to follow consumer momentum into green, now they need to lead consumers with the subtlety that distinguishes great marketing.

Top Bottled Waters
1 Aquafina
2 Fiji
3 Poland Spring
4 San Pellegrino and Evian
5 Volvic and Perrier
6 Deer Park
7 Dannon
8 Dasani
Source: Brand Keys Customer
Loyalty Engagement Index 2011

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Michael Martin is CEO of EFFECT Partners, a Minneapolis-based sustainability agency whose clients include U2, CLIF Bar, P&G, Green Giant and Cascadian Farms.

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Green economy will become hot again for news companies

3 Feb

How “going green” has changed throughout the years. Originally posted by inma.

11 January 2011 · By Herman Verwimp

One of the marketing buzzwords three years ago was “green.” But that word disappeared when we were confronted with a global economic crisis. Now, when the first signs of a prudent recovery are showing up, I believe it will soon be on top of the hit parades of marketers all over the world. And it will become very relevant for the newsmedia industry. As a threat, or as an opportunity. Just depending on your mindset.

Let’s start with an example, from an economic sector that’s known for a good feeling in which direction the economy will develop. On November 3, Nasdaq launched 66 green indices designed to track the performance of companies in the environmental and clean energy sector. Nasdaq says the green economy is shifting economic development towards sustainable practices in business and infrastructure.

Well, if the center of the financial world shows interest and creates products around this economy, it’s time to act. Or at least to put this issue back on your dashboard.

Where could “green” be of interest for a newsmedia company? A non-limitative list shows already how rich this issue can be. But better is to make your own list after a brainstorm with some of your colleagues who are marketing sensitive:

Distribution: We all comply when paper mills raise their prices, and we are afraid of the consequences for our sales. I believe that prices will go up. Not only because of the consolidation of producers, but even more because regulators will raise taxes for paper. And they will deliver new regulations for a green way to recycle paper. Beside this we expect that those companies that use paper in their products will become responsible for the recycling of the product. Or, if they can’t, pay an extra tax for it. In any case, it will raise the costs for printing. On the other hand, this is a great opportunity. A newspaper, what’s in the word, like The Daily by News Corporation that will only be published on the iPad, will not suffer. And what’s more: they have an extra marketing argument. Some consumers like the green argumen, and prefer green label products. Others will follow.

Advertising: Perhaps not the first thing you think about when the green issue is mentioned. But there will be a great market for companies that advertise that they do their business “green.” This is the time to create new products or launch actions to put your medium in the spotlight for all those advertisers that will focus on green. Special prices, joint promotions, free space for product launches … choices enough. Time for action.

Positioning: Recent research indicated that only 6% of consumers believe companies say they’re green because they actually believe in it. This means that for those that really mean it, there’s the big chance to be a first mover and take all the advances of it. When you’re first to claim it, the market will remember you more than competitors. This is the reason why local newspapers can support the creation of a new national park in their region, co-organise a “green fair,” launch the “green prize” for the most green economic initiative, and more.

Leadership: When you take responsibility, the public will notice it. The respect for a leader is always bigger than for a follower. Authenticity is bigger as well, and that’s what most stakeholders in companies love. Investors, advertisers, suppliers, and …

Employer Branding: We need to be attractive for young talent. A green company will soon be a much more attractive employer than a company “for older generations.” We need the most talented people in our industry. In our companies. That will be the best guarantee for future success. But no company needs followers. We need developers, with new fresh ideas. To make sure that we’re ready for the fast-moving future. Green will attract employers with a “green” heart.

This is not easy stuff. When you work for a publicly traded company, it will be a necessity to introduce green in your strategy and in your quarterly reports. But as Joel Makower says in his book Future Lab, we know exactly what “good enough” is for green buildings, there’s a standard for that, but not for green business. Lots of companies will struggle to understand where they are and where they need to go, not to mention how to get there.

In recent research by Shelton, only 35% of the people answered that they would be willing to give away their iPod to save the planet. Only 65% said they wouldn’t.

A minority? Yes. At this moment. But even then, from a population of 200 million, this is still 70 million people. A segment I consider as “relevant” enough for immediate action. Even with this final remark in the back of our head:

Consumers say they want to do something about the environment (because that’s the right thing to do), but when it comes to leaving their comfort zone or giving up on a benefit or on their lifestyle, most people won’t make the green decision. “Never discount health, comfort, convenience, life style and beauty,” Shelton said. “That stuff can make or break your campaign.”

Soon “green” will be added to this list.

Back To The Future

27 Jan

2010 was an important year in green. A number of campaigns took the leap from attaching to change for promotion to making social change the axis of a campaign. Also, campaign focus widened from the environment to a range of sustainability issues. Consider my top five 2010 campaigns for creativity, issue impact, and corporate impact, with some thoughts on where they can go next.

5. Organic Valley’s Generation Organic 2010 “Who’s Your Farmer?” Tour

Organic Valley’s future farmer recruitment tour visited college campuses to espouse the viability of a career in organic farming and educate on the benefits of organics. It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of spreading the benefits of co-operative farming to boost an essential, yet declining, occupation. The 2010 tour lasted only two and a half weeks and traveled from Wisconsin through New England to D.C., meaning most of the stops hit small institutions or retailers. A logical next step: Enlist large land-grant universities where farming is a focus of the school, tie into the curriculum and create a national educational movement.

4. Disney’s Give a Day, Get a Day

Volunteer a day of service to a participating organization in your community and receive a one-day theme park ticket to Disney. Disney hit its goal of 1 million volunteers in just 10 weeks, motivating community service while upping park traffic (think 1 million people + paying family and friends, all spending on incidentals). If Disney can establish a system to measure the actual impact of the campaign on the community, the company will build a compelling case for global impact.

3. Justin’s Nut Butter The Least You Can Do Campaign

Justin’s Least You Can Do made it easy for people to ask companies that make small condiment packages to abandon oil-based plastic for more sustainable, compostable packaging. This initiative creates a campaign that allows one of the smallest brands in the category to play a leadership role in its industry. Spreading the word by engaging with environmental non-profits, retailers, student groups, as well as industry associations will move the program to the next level.

2. Lady Gaga and Virgin Mobile’s RE*Generation

“Free I.P.,” a part of Virgin Mobile’s RE*Generation program, offered VIP tickets to Lady Gaga fans who volunteered eight hours to homeless youth organizations. Begun in 2009, the program boosted volunteer hours by 65% last year (to more than 50,000 volunteer hours). Going forward, more tickets in each market, expanding artist involvement to different genres, broader PR support, and mobile service offers could widen age-group appeal and encourage people to expand their volunteering.

1. Levi’s “Care to Air”

Levi’s “Care to Air” contest spread the word about line drying by encouraging consumers to come up with creative drying rack designs. Additionally, through a collection partnership with Goodwill, Levi’s put “care tags for the planet” in all its clothes to encourage people to recycle and keep clothes out of landfills. Levi Strauss has done an exemplary job of incorporating sustainability into its business model. The next logical step would be a home run for the planet: enlisting other clothing manufacturers to follow suit.
Bottom line, sustainability moved into the mainstream in 2010. I’m looking forward to the day it is the standard. For now, we can all speed the momentum by chiming in. How can these great programs better help the planet, people and business all at the same time? Who else deserves a spot on the list?

article by  Michael Martin found here