Why you can’t afford to miss going green

25 May 2010|Kelli Peterson

It’s pretty simple really. Sustainability trends have transpired such that demand is rising as products proliferate. Regardless of whether the category is well understood, it’s in evolution. The dialogue created around each new brand’s entry is fueling the debate and education process which is driving consumer awareness and interest.

Prior to 2010, we were in wait and see mode. With Pepsi’s launch of Refresh Everything in January, a tidal wave of new product initiatives have been hitting mainstream store shelves demonstrating that we are no longer speculating on the importance of sustainability but we are entering a new realm of consumption based on it.

If your company is still trying to figure out if or why it should tackle this critical trend, here are five non-debatable reasons why you can’t afford to miss it:

Everybody’s doin’ it
We are still on the upside of the trend but many of the major players are in the process of announcing efforts to address rising environmental concerns. From canned goods to household cleaning products to electronics to beauty to hard goods companies, major brand initiatives addressing a host of solutions and re-formulations to lessen impact are hitting the airwaves and store shelves in 2010.

From a consumer standpoint, the options are becoming available across categories and if you’re in a high frequency category – consumables, durable goods or hygiene – the opportunity is even greater as awareness for what goes on and in the body are increasing with every natural disaster and report on toxicity levels.

We seek that which we want to be
We like being around people who are smart, who do the right thing, who are funny. We surround ourselves by things and brands we are attracted to. Price parity notwithstanding, consumers want their brands to be doing the right thing. They want to be associated with doing good. Brands are an expression of ourselves and if we are comfortable that a brand is acting with integrity and doing the right thing – we increase our own self-esteem through purchase.

As the very human-oriented sustainability debate gradually permeates every product category, there is no moral reason that we would stay with a brand or product that has not aligned itself with at least a facet of the opportunity to step up to the challenge at hand.

Responsibility is “in”
The last decade drug us through corporate fraud, exposed us to government frailty and kept us teetering on the edge of a personal freefall. We are no longer enjoying the fruits of easily earned successes but coming to terms with the need to stand up and take notice. No longer trusting in the decisions of others, we now seek cues that responsibility for our overall health and environmental welfare are being addressed.

As products come to market, we are being trained to look for certifications, symbols and statements that tell us we are not consuming the same products of yesteryear. Rather ‘new and improved’ now means newly accountable for the production and manufacturing of something safe for us and considerate of the conditions in which it was made (people, place or process).

We desperately need optimism
Courtship and desire occur through the lens of optimism and brand relationships are no different, especially in atmosphere of doom and uncertainty. Understanding where your unique brand assets intuitively cross over with the positivism of sustainable values creates an opportunity for your product to speak authentically to your customer in this new age of consumption. You are being given an opportunity to uniquely dimensionalize your relationship based on an extreme shift in values triggered by issues of both environmental and social sustainability. Rather than a price of entry, missing out could be a brand loss.

Supplier scorecards will have a trickledown effect
There has been much debate as to whether consumers are noticing retail and product efforts to manage supply chain practices. WalMart, P&G, Ford, and Kaiser have all been announcing programs over the last couple of months and WalMart’s is only the latest in a multi-year effort into infrastructure impact. As we slowly climb out of economic despair, our pragmatism will be reinforced by these efforts which ultimately will find their ways to consumer ears.

Emerging from a series of near catastrophic financial and environmental events, our need to believe in structural oversight is creating a receptivity that borders on price of entry. Sustainable manufacturing efforts are here to stay. And companies want credit where credit is due. As a manifestation of brand, it makes sense to be in the game, leveraging unique assets to create a richer relationship with your customer as your customer navigates a new era of values created by uncertainty and change.

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