Next to Come: New Eco-Friendly Developments for the New Year of Change

With the winter holiday season rapidly approaching, this week I would like to discuss some timely new green marketing developments ready to be launched for the New Year. Times Square is globally one of the most notable and recognized locations for bright lights and over-the-top advertisements and billboards. In 1906 the section directly around Times Square in Manhattan was dubbed "The Great White Way" by the New York Evening Telegram, due to the fact the city is lit up by advertisements and bright store lights at night. On December 4th Ricoh is building the first ever green billboard in Times Square, across the street from the where the ball will be dropped on New Year's Eve. I found the announcement of this event on an interesting blog post titled "New York City Goes Green with an Eco-Friendly Billboard this Holiday Season." I found another interesting blog that addresses popular bamboo advertising tactics, and the potential overuse, titled "How Beneficial is the Bamboo Boom?" . I have linked to each of these blogs where my comments may be read in context, but for convenience I have also posted them below.

"How Beneficial is the Bamboo Boom?"

The use of Bamboo is a very significant topic, especially right now. I am glad that you address the serious environmental implications of using bamboo in a time where we see many advertisers and marketers “going green”, and many new products being environmentally friendly because they are bamboo. I have recently posted a blog about how the fashion industry has turned to using bamboo in some clothing lines. Another interesting current use for bamboo is physical advertising stands. There are many companies that are dedicated to selling inexpensive advertising options through what are known as eco-friendly bamboo stands. It is interesting to note that bamboo can be grown essentially with little to no chemicals or pesticides. In this sense bamboo is a very environmentally friendly option in terms of farming. However, you point out that in the production process many chemicals are used, which adds to the carbon footprint of using bamboo. Furthermore, your quote from Jim Bower that, “clearly, the green status currently accorded bamboo products needs serious re-evaluation” is very relevant. It is important to know how the resources are being recycled and reused after production. The companies that are promoting bamboo advertising stands do not reference any of this information, which leads one to think they are not wholly earth friendly. I am glad that you address both sides to this issue. Do you think that it is possible that some marketers are overusing bamboo in their efforts to go green? Furthermore do you think that there are other marketing implications that can be used with regard to bamboo? Personally, I think the use of bamboo for advertisers can be environmentally friendly; it just cannot be overused in a way that is misleading to the consumers being sold products.

"New York City Goes Green with an Eco-Friendly Billboard this Holiday Season"

This is such an interesting and relevant topic for the upcoming 2009 year of change. New York, especially Times Square is commonly known for their dazzling advertisements and billboards that light the streets for “the city that never sleeps.” And what is so interesting about the advertising that takes place in New York is that it sets trends and provides the framework for future campaigns to come. These timely developments from Ricoh we can only hope will set the stage for more green billboards and eco-friendly advertising. It is very interesting to note that the company has decided to take such a highly visible advertising space. The billboard is located directly across the street from where the ball will be dropped on New Years Eve, and with no back up generator, the company is investing a lot of money and assuming a lot of potential risk. With such a highly visible spot, blank ad space is an advertiser’s worst fear and liability. And with unpredictable weather, there is no way of predicting if the billboard will go blank, and if it will, for how long. I did some further research on the details and specifics of the project to find that there have been no specific numbers declared, but the advertisement has been purchased for a three-year spot for potentially six digit monthly fee. This is a high price to pay for such a risky investment, even if thousands will be saved due to energy costs. Furthermore, will the company be willing to invest in more green billboards across the nation? Since this billboard is green, it is powered by floodlights and will not have the same eye-catching appeal that most all other advertisements or billboards in New York have. Advertising is a particularly competitive field when it comes to visuals, especially with billboards, and one must have a competitive edge in order to stay in the market. When the initially excitement of the “first green billboard” is gone, how do you think the visual appeal will retain customers’ attention? I think that this was a bold and risky move; however, I think it is a step in the right direction, and others will follow.


Is Wal-Mart Really Going Green: In Jeffrey Hollender We Trust

I have discussed in previous posts that with the craze for everything organic, companies and brands are collaborating marketing tactics and teaming up to meet the demand for environmentally friendly products. This common practice, when used appropriately and ethically, has yielded profitable results as well as received praise from consumers and environmental activists. It is interesting to note, however, when collaborative efforts raise controversy and stir debate. In that spirit, an interesting and timely move has been made between Seventh Generation, a leading brand in green household products, and Wal-Mart, a big box supercenter. This past weekend, Wal-Mart has extended its business model and launched a new retail concept called Marketside, which consists of four small stores (10,000-12,000 square feet) located in Arizona. Each Marketside store is dedicated to providing natural and organic offerings and will be operated and staffed independently of Wal-Mart, yet is a fully owned subsidiary of Wal-Mart. These stores are approximately 10,000-12,000 square feet and will be dedicated to natural and organic products and offerings. This new retail format comes as no surprise to consumers as Wal-Mart has made several attempts to eradicate harsh feelings towards the corporation and brand as a whole. However, it does come as a surprise that Seventh Generation is joining this movement in that CEO Jeffrey Hollender (see right) has made public statements that he will never do business with Wal-Mart, or at least not until hell freezes over. While Seventh Generation products will not be sold at Wal-Mart supercenters, they will be available for purchase at these four Marketside stores. We may look at this move with some skepticism and fear, and for good reason, but I have to wonder whether it is purely cynical to question that Wal-Mart may actually be going green.

Wal-Mart has received much criticism towards its labor practices, work hours, pay rates, aggressive market entrances that wipe out small businesses, environmental unfriendliness, and the list goes on. There are also those who swear by Wal-Mart and will continue to be devoted shoppers regardless; the debate over whether Wal-Mart is good or evil may never stop. And the sudden change of heart from the well-liked and trusted Hollender, who has made the long-anticipated decision to engage in business with Wal-Mart, has raised some eyebrows. We can trace the beginning of these friendly relations between Wal-Mart and Seventh Generation to the Wal-Mart Sustainability Milestone Meeting, when Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott announced innovative plans to progress Wal-Mart's sustainability initiatives. These included selling greener products and local foods, and more efficient supply chain management which yields less waste. While not fully convinced, these efforts had traction enough to catch the attention and hope of Hollender. In Hollender's blog post titled "Whirl-Mart: Back In the Belly Of the Jolly Green Giant" he states, "I am exhilarated. I am watching the Jolly Green Giant bend down and pick daisies rather than run blindly across the field crushing all in its path. I am hopeful, glad to have come, and ready to provide any and all with advice". Hollender's optimism towards Wal-Mart and its business plans may in fact prove to be a good thing. 

In Hollender's recent blog entry Has Seventh Generation Sold Out by Working with Wal-Mart? he discusses the reasoning and logic behind the move to sell Seventh Generation products at Wal-Mart Marketside stores. He acknowledges that Wal-Mart has made improvements and changed for the better. They are currently the world's largest buyer of organic cotton, have energy-conserving stores with wind turbines and solar panels, use more efficient shipping methods, reduced "high-risk violations" by forty percent, as well as increased the amount of women in ranking position by forty percent. He notes that Wal-Mart's sales record from 2007 shows that they are "almost single-handily leading the switch from incandescent to energy efficient lighting", as well as have transformed the entire laundry detergent industry. For all those skeptics out there, these are no small feats. I would like to note that Hollender uses a tweaked version of Reagan's axiom "trust, but verify" as a model for this business relationship and we can rest assured he will hold true to this.

Does Hollender truly believe Wal-Mart has changed, or is the potential profit of a capitalistic maneuver too tempting to resist? Hollender is not only a well respected and praised CEO, his company has received awards and recognition over the course of his reign. In 2002, Seventh Generation received the Socially Responsible Business Award, which recognizes companies that have excelled in socially responsible business practices, marking the beginning of the company's acknowledgment in the eco-friendly realm. Since then Seventh Generation has received a Sustainability Award from the Alliance of Sustainability, a Social Capitalist Award, and a Customer Excellence Award in Environmental Stability, to name a few. This year Jeffrey Hollender was awarded the Entrepreneur CEO of the Year by Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine. Furthermore, Hollender asks for our understanding. In his blog he observes, "I realize this isn't going to make me a more popular guy, but I also believe -- to the core of my soul -- that it's the right thing to do". Even if Wal-Mart is not trusted based on its past actions, it is a year to believe in change and the opportunity for good, and we can trust that Hollender has made this decision with benign intent.


Hotels and Lodging: Eco-Friendly Renovations or Greenwashing?

In a previous post, I explored some environmentally-ethical controversies within the fashion industry. The main issue I pointed out was that even if designers are not using animals as materials for their next clothing line, is it really fair to send exotic animals down the runway as a part of their fashion show. When it comes to marketing, it is important to know where the ethical line should be drawn. This is crucial for the consumer because marketing tactics do not want to be seen as misleading. This week I explored the blogosphere in search of what criteria marketing efforts go through to ensure they remain ethical; more specifically to avoid the practice of "greenwashing". Greenwashing is the practice of claiming environmental responsibility without backing up this claim. The term was coined by New York environmentalist Jay Westerveld in response to the hotel industry's efforts to go green. These efforts included displaying green placards, reusing guest's towels, and claiming overall environmental friendliness, which in fact proved to have little to no legitimacy and was used purely for profit. While we still see greenwashing today, and will continue to in the future, there are many hotels that are trying to combat this bad reputation by upholding to standards set by hotel search engines, the six sins set by TerraChoice, and the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system. One interesting post I found titled "PKF: Green building operations favorably impact asset value" discusses how true profit can emerge from legitimately making hotels green. However we notice in this post that profit is the primary concern. On a more earth-friendly note, I found a very interesting post by Kerri titled "Touting eco-credentials is hot marketing trend for hotels", which discusses how one couple dedicated to helping the environment truly created a green bed and breakfast inn.

"PKF: Green building operations favorably impact asset value"

This is a very interesting and informative post. I think the concept of greener hotels has been on a lot of owners minds for a while, and the prospect that new developments will undergo soon is a comforting thought. I find this post particularly interesting because it seems that there are only positives for company managers and owners to make their hotels greener. The problem that I see, which is a problem with all reconstruction for greener purposes, is timing and profit or funding. When it comes to new developments and renovation, the eventual return on investment needs to outway the costs. With the information you propose this deems true, however owners and investors will not see these returns for some time. That is where a huge drawback lies. Furthermore with the rising cost of fossil fuels, hotels will inevitably need to switch to alternative energy sources in the future, so why not now? I find the quote from Bose, “For every dollar you can add to the bottom line of a San Francisco hotel, more than $11 is added in value,” very interesting. This is definitely incentive for greener renovations, even if they will not immediately be seen. Another problem that I could see being a drawback is that state of the economy. The dark shadow looming over consumers disposable income means that there is a lot less vacationing and a lot less hotel room spending. Furthermore, with the high costs of renovation, there seems to be a lack of that extra push to get eco-friendly changes underway. Another issue that is very relevant to hotels and environmentally friendly actions is the idea of greenwashing. It is comforting to know that Bose claims that “in contract negotiations with companies, consortia and government agencies for all of their travel and meetings business, hotel operators are being asked not only to confirm that they use sustainable business practices, but to prove it by naming the awards and certifications they have earned.” It is time that we can move on to a greener world and hopefully the hotel industry will follow suit.

"Touting eco-credentials is hot marketing trend for hotels"

Thank you for your interesting and lively post. I am glad to see that there are true eco-friendly efforts being made, and success that follows. This couple whole-heartedly seems to believe in the environment and this shines through in the work they have done with their Bed and Breakfast. It seems that in order for a company, brand, or in this case lodging, to exercise authentic green practices, the brains behind the mission must genuinely have the environments best interest at heart. I find your main argument very insightful as well. Not only is green marketing a profitable tactic for marketers, it has come to the point where flaunting what you call “eco-credentials” is even more profitable. With consumer skepticism and the prospect of greenwashing seemingly everywhere it is no surprise that consumers want to know whether or not green marketers can back up their claims with legitimacy. I would like to point out that the Pinehurst Inn have every reason to be legitimately green, as you have pointed out. With the combination of tactics these owners are instilling it makes you wonder why other inns are not reaping the benefits of going green. It is environmentally friendly, cost saving in the long run, sustainable, and appealing to the modern day eco-friendly consumer. One question I would like to raise is about the rating system. The Pinehurst Inn is rated by the Wisconsin Travel Green rating system. When I looked into this it seems that it is voluntary, and as you noted “self-reporting.” Furthermore, there is a fee that one must pay in order to be rate. This seems a little bit of a skeptical source to receive a rating from, however the Pinehurst Inn holds true to what makes a hotel green. Do you think there is any reason to question the legitimacy is the credentials seem a little flaky, even if the experience at the hotel felt green?


Fashion Week: Painting the Catwalk Green

In a previous post, I explored various techniques and strategies marketers are using to keep green initiatives a primary concern in our economy, as well as consumers' responses to these efforts. It is important to keep the environment in the minds of consumers, yet marketers need to make sure their efforts are clear and not misleading. I would like to take a deeper look at this idea with regard to the world of fashion. Fashion is a creative expression of one's view of the world and this differs from designer to designer. Many designers who envision a cleaner environment are trying to incorporate eco-friendly tactics with their fashion lines through the use of organic materials and sustainable production methods. With the fall season we all know this means one thing --the tents go up in New York and Los Angeles for Fashion Week. Fashion Week is not only the perfect way to broadcast a label's new developments; it notoriously sets the trends for upcoming seasons. And while up-and-coming designers may be more inclined to experiment with green initiatives, the prominent labels seem to be shying away from environmental efforts.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
is one of the world's most prestigious semi-annual fashion shows premiering designer collections from Vera Wang and Michael Kors, to Diane Von Furstenberg and Betsey Johnson. This year's spring/summer collections were debuted at Smashbox Studios in Culver City for the Los Angeles Fashion Week where the main tent finale; "The Green Initiative Humanitarian Fashion Show." This show displayed five segments of environmentally minded designers. Emily Factor started the event with her line of mermaid-like dresses and frocks with bright floral designs. The next line that was debuted, called M the movement, featured clothes made from bamboo and soy product, and charcoal. Lilikoi is an eco-friendly brand that focuses on clean production and sustainable fabric ingredients. Lilikoi fabrics are 100% naturally made from bamboo and organically grown cotton and linen. Furthermore, they consider the origin of their fabrics to ensure proper conditions of those who manufacture the fabrics.The final line that premired was by Smart Glass, which is a label that features products made from recycled glass and sterling silver. The designer, Kathleen Plate, has a strong passion for the earth and nature, which is reflective in her brand. Along with her designs composed from recycled glass, Plate donates some of her proceeds to her favorite charity foundations. These four out of the five lines use the earth to sell their products, yet they demonstrate passion for the environment and have the earth's best interest in mind.

There is a fine line between ethical commodification of the earth, however, and exploiting it. If a brand is truly devoted to the earth and offers sustainable options that give back to the environment, it can be seen as ethical. This idea was compromised by Ecoskin. EcoSkin is seemingly a legitimate and eco-friendly brand. Like the other labels, the fabric is organically grown and the manufacturing plant is monitored to ensure ethical working conditions. Yet, during the fashion show EcoSkin's segment included a monkey, wolf (below left), and a snake to walk down the catwalk, which has stirred much commentary across the blogosphere. In the L.A. Times blog author Melissa Magsaysay, an attendee and photographer quotes, "the poor beast was bewildered by the crowd, lights and loud music and the model was tugging him to stay on the runway" (in reference to the wolf). Even if the brand does not use animal fur or skin in their clothing, exploiting them on the runway is just as bad. Simply using organic products for fabrics does not make a brand eco-friendly. Being environmental should not be used as an easy way to market to consumers; it should instead be an all-encompassing passion and effort to help preserve the earth. EcoSkin is a prime example of manipulation and exploitation of the idea of "going green," and blurring the line between what is ethical and what is not. Another point that has been brought to my attention is how the animals were initially exploited. They came from, or were rented from, Animal Actors Worldwide (AAW), a full-service agency that loans out exotic animals. While their list of experience includes well known movies such as Borat, this does not legitimate the brand's environmentalism. Animals should not be exploited and used in a fashion show when the brand claims environmental conservatism; and Magsaysaysay further quotes, "Love them by leaving them in their home". The exploitation of animals is a whole other ethical topic to be discussed, but I would like to point out that this act by EcoSkin is inherently contradictory to the concept of being environmentally ethical. And due to the prestige of L.A. Fashion Week, these acts perpetuate a flawed logic that animal exploitation can be a part of an eco-friendly brand.

Despite unethical practices by some, there are more notable environmental fashion efforts that deserve to be acknowledged. Gen Art hosted "Fashionably Neutral," another fashion show that premiered during L.A's Fashion Week. Similarly, this show featured designs from Brigis Catiis, Popomomo, Velvet Leaf, and The Battalion with all brands promising a commitment to sustainability. Ian Gerard, Gen Art's Founder and CEO says, "Sustainable fashion has become more and more important every passing year with what's happening to the environment. So it's very exciting that this is our first green fashion show." It is comforting to know that some are able to capitalize on green marketing tactics, while keeping the environment, over profit, the main priority. Marketing is inherently persuasive and used accordingly to sell products and services. Knowing this, it is the designer's responsibility to maintain ethical practices when using green marketing.


Exploring the Blogosphere: Environmental Information is Bountiful

This week I extensively explored the Web in search of engaging and reputable sites that pertain to the multifaceted world of marketing, as well as will complement the subject matter presented in my entries. Using criteria determined by the Webby Awards and IMSA, I have created a linkroll of twenty sites as a compilation of blogs, associations, organizations, newspapers, magazines and news sites. I have evaluated each site based on content, depth of information, interactivity, functionality, visual appeal, and overall experience. My goal is to provide my readers with a comprehensive list of sites that acknowledge and critically analyze the constantly developing field of marketing as well as those which tackle emerging social issues resulting from these developments. I have added each site to my linkroll (right) and will provide my own critiques in this entry.

Within my compilation of Internet sites, the first grouping of links I will address can be categorized as resources for marketing strategies and trends across the market. The American Marketing Association (AMA) website is a primary tool for research, every day marketing information, and a venue for professional networking. This site offers rich, in-depth information on every facet in the field of marketing organized in a professional and sleek visual design. MediaPost is also a fundamental marketing site which provides a creatively crafted overview of the world of media. The site is frequently updated, provides insight to professional knowledge, and promotes interactivity through community membership. The next two sites I have found useful for specifically eco-friendly marketing updates and trends. GreenBiz provides updates for the intersection of marketing and the concept of going green. With features section, news, blog, GreenBiz is comprehensive, interactive, and geared towards those who are highly motivated to engage in complex information. Sustainable Life Media is not as professionally designed, and gives the reader a cautious vibe they are trying to be sold something. Though useful in the immediacy of updates and broad range of information, there seems to be a bias or alternate agenda behind the organization. Yankelovich is a site dedicated to sustainable brand equity. It is professional, has extensive research, visually appealing, and easy to navigate. Though similarly, the site is trying to sell you the techniques and knowledge of the author (Yankelovich), thus distracting the reader and losing some credibility.

The next cluster of sites I have collected deal with the social responsibility of going green by joining organizations and participating in green movements. GreenPeace is not only an ample resource for updated green news, it prompts activism through membership and donation. The Environmental Defense Fund site finds unity between updated green news, lifestyle choices, and green marketing. These are all framed within an active charitable context prompting readers to explore and confirm the credibility of the fund. It's Getting Hot in Here is a youth driven movement to aid the improvement of the environment. It effectively appeals to the target reader through interactive tools such as videos, voting, links, and shopping.

The next cluster of sites comprise what I spend most of my on when delving into my green marketing topic. One of my personal favorite go-to resources is TreeHugger. User-friendly, approachable, interactive, with a broad scope of content, TreeHugger (above right) is an acclaimed venue in the blogosphere with information on anything related to the environment-loving community. The Daily Green is more of a consumer-oriented junction for how the everyday consumer can go green, as well as remain updated on how going green is influencing our society. These two sites offer extensive and specific information geared toward the green community both nationally and globally. Similar in content, though more blog focused, Grist is nonprofit environmentally driven journalism resource. Gris is confusing because the user must scroll to the bottom of the page to access articles and blogs. This site is deprived of a cohesive feel to what the focus is, other than being green, and could benefit through using clear organization and formatting. Conversely, The Green Guide is a subcategory for the National Geographic website. The Green Guide effectively produces a lifestyle-oriented everyday guide for consumers. It engages users by offering fun quizzes, interactive videos, "smart shopper cards", and tips of the week to successfully enhance user awareness of how to be green. Planet Green is also a green lifestyle site, yet is uniquely effective in that it uses user-generated votes on various articles to guide reader navigation. This is a different approach than most sites I have visited, yet lacks some credibility when the highest voted articles lack any commentary from their voters. Ecorazzi takes on the format of a celebrity gossip blog. It uses updated information about what is trendy in the green world, as well as posts entries featuring celebrities and their green contribution. This site is creative in design, yet there is little interactivity with the pictures and links, and the content provided lacks incentive for the user to fully engage, comment, and remain interested. Nonetheless, at face value this is an innovative and interesting site I plan on returning to. Ecofabulous is similar to Ecorazzi. This site has a more sophisticated feel, yet lacks in current information, as well as depth of content and scholarly value.

Finally, I will conclude with online newspapers and scholarly driven resources dedicated to academic value. The Environmentalist is a web magazine dedicated to the history and impact and geopolitical effects of climate change. Many of the articles featured in the Environmentalist are published in The Huffington Post, an online newspaper that includes a green section. This site is visually appealing and offers several links to amazing photographs. These two sites are easy to navigate, very interactive, and offer in-depth content. EcoGeek and Marketing Green are similar in nature, content, structure and format. Both are scholarly driven blogs which prompt discussion on current issues. They both offer valuable opinion based on extensive knowledge and research in the author's field: Ecogeek is dedicated to environmental preservation, while Marketing Green is dedicated to effective and ethical green marketing. I will conclude my linkroll analysis with my personal favorite, the Ecologist (above left). Claiming the title of the world's leading environmental magazine, this site does not fall short of that statement. The Ecologist offers insightful and interesting articles, relevant videos, is clear in organization and structure, is visually sophisticated.


Consumer Outlook: In the Effort To Go Green, Where is Our Green Going?

In my previous post, Sustainability: Keeping our Economy in a Green State-of-Mind, I uncovered some uncertainty facing the economy with regard to green marketing. Through my discussion I revealed that even though budget cuts are going to be made, green marketing is here to stay. And despite new obstacles, marketers are innovative and are constantly faced with challenges that they must overcome. Given the various ways that different companies are overcoming this economic struggle, I would like to further my discussion about the world of consumerism. How are consumers responding to these branding and marketing tactics? Consumers may be more inclined to purchase a product they already want, especially if it is marketed as environmentally friendly. But what about when it comes to donations, or adding the extra money or time, are the results as high as we would hope? I came across the very informative blog by author Christianna Mccausland. Her entry is titled "For Consumers, More Incentives to go Green". McCausland talks about how Expedia.com has recently incorporated the option for fliers to pay $25 to reduce the carbon offset caused by their flight. I found this blog particularly interesting because the author touches on the point that the market is still unregulated. Which is true, and one of the main reasons people are still skeptical when it comes to cause-marketing. When it comes to donating any sum of money to a charity or cause, the consumer wants to know where their contribution is going and how exactly it is bettering the given cause. In further exploration of the topic of consumer responses, I found a very interesting blog titled "It Ain't Easy Being a Green Marketer"by Chris Baskind. There is an interesting discussion on whether or not the green marketing bubble is ready to pop. This again relates back to the consumer and how willing people are to buy into green marketing.

"For Consumers, More Incentives to go Green"

This is a very well crafted and organized entry. I find your arguments both informative and intriguing. I find it very interesting that Expedia, and not individual airline companies has decided to offer a green option. In their partnership with TerraPass, the consumer can only assume that this small extra fee makes their travels more eco-friendly. Your point about the unregulated market is very well presented and well substantiated. No consumer is to truly know where their contributions are going, expecially when going through a third agent;in this case Expedia. The tricky part about cause-marketing is that consumers are naturally skeptical as it is. So when marketers add extra fees and costs, then say it is going towards a "good cause", skepticism tends to rise and consumers are less likely to fork up the dough. You quote, "it’s hard to track how many of these programs exist, how many customers are participating, and the effectiveness of the programs". I agree with this statement and can only add that this is exactly the reason consumers have doubt. If not every flier is required to pay this extra fee, what is the true reward for the ones that do? Peace of mind? Peace of mind that they don't really know where their dollars are going? I find comfort that you end on the point by Thomas Lyon, "there are a lot of good-hearted people out there who want to do the right thing, and they haven’t known how to do it, so companies are making it easier for them". People inherently want to do the right thing; people want to help out. With more regulation and standards on their way, green marketing will eventually find a place that is comfortable for the consumer to whole-heartedly buy into. I do have a couple of question that may spike your interest. Do you think it is economically fair to make everyone pay an extra five dollars for their flight that will contribute towards carbon off-setting? Expedia could also keep the twenty-five dollar donation for those who could afford it. Furthermore do you foresee an individual airline making all of their flights green? Again, great post and I look forward to hearing more developments.

"It Ain't Easy Being a Green Marketer"

This is a very interesting post that prompts discussion on green marketing. As far as the green marketing bubble goes, I do not think that it is ready to pop. I agree with your statement, "what consumers say and how they behave aren’t always the same". This is especially true when it comes to low involvement product categories, like toilet paper. When it comes to products such as these, consumers tend to go with brand recognition. With this idea in mind, emerging toilet paper brands who deem themselves as "green", will not compete with well recognized brands like Charmin. With regard to the idea of green-washing I feel that competition will hopefully get so high that the companies who cannot legitimize their claims will be naturally weeded out. Since so many companies are making claims for their products going green, consumers will seek out those products and brands that can back up their marketing statements. Regulation on green marketing assertions could also be more stiff. Furthermore, companies making the claims that their products are green could offer consumers some sort of proof of this. Consumers need to see what their dollar is being spent on. If a brand or company can make the claim that dollars being spent on their products are helping the environment, consumers deserve to see more results. With regard to your commentary on Whole Foods, I think in the state of the economy a high priced specialty store like whole foods is bound to take a hit. Right now, marketers need to focus on making products people will already buy more eco-friendly. Not the other way around. If marketers continue to do this, I do not think the green marketing bubble will pop.


Sustainability: Keeping Our Economy in a Green State-of-Mind.

In a time when our country is in an environmental and economical crisis, the popular campaign of “going green” is seeming every marketers dream. Seeing that our planet encompasses all consumers in every possible market, marketers can use the idea of “going green” to appeal to everyone. Thus, it is no surprise the idea of green seems to be everywhere: Fashion, beauty products, cars, computers, even food products. We have turned the earth, or the idea of it, into a commodity; and it sells. However, the obstacle arises with every marketing campaign or branding technique of sustainability, and keeping the consumer interested. And with the declining state of our economy, even the most creative marketers are going to have to find an innovative way to reach consumers.

With companies and organizations reducing their budgets, there is speculation about what will and what
will not survive the cut. Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) are expecting that due to the state of the economy, there will be less-emphasis placed on green-marketing over the next year, according to a study conducted by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. The survey asked CMO's from leading companies and organizations their opinions of the current marketplace in order to “predict the future of markets, track marketing excellence, and improve the value of marketing in firms and in society.” The results are bitter for the world of cause-marketing. Based on the responses from 72 Fortune 1000 companies and Forbes Top 200 small businesses, cause-marketing was ranked at the bottom of five priorities for the upcoming year. Marketers are more pessimistic with the state of the business world and want to focus their money and resources on more promising ways to reach consumers. If consumers do not have money to buy essentials, it is reasonable to assume they will not buy products merely to support a cause.

Nevertheless, there remain marketers that keep green-marketing a budget priority. This is partly because consumers with enough disposable income are going to continue to buy products from brands they are loyal to. Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple, undoubtedly one of the leaders in creative marketing, has gone to many efforts to market Apple as a greener company. Apple has redesigned many of their products in order to re-market and position themselves as a more environmentally friendly brand. Among the most recent efforts, Apple has released the new “cleanest ipod” (See above right). The latest version of the ipod is made with less toxins and has a “highly recyclable aluminum enclosure”. The Apple brand serves as an example for marketers and has proven time and again to have strong brand loyalty. Consumers who purchase Apple products tend to have a very strong felt connection and association between the brand and themselves. We have undergone a cultural shift towards a greener society, therefore with the addition of cleaner and more eco-friendly attributes to their products, consumers have more positive feelings towards the brand. These affirming feelings then parallel a positive association for owning the product. This not only keeps the brand equity, it revamps Apple’s products to keep arouse new interest, as well as boosts the corporate social responsibilityof their company.

While Apple has taken the approach of incorporating more eco-friendly attributes into the production and manufacturing of their products, brands such as Clorox have attempted to buy sustainability. Clorox has received much scrutiny from Greenpeace in the past, however, Clorox has added the new product line of Greenworks, which uses 99% natural ingredients, as well as purchased the Burt’s Bees brand, in hopes of increasing positive attitudes felt towards the overall brand. Carter Elenz, the executive Vice President of sales and marketing says that as a company they are “still thinking [this market] is expandable” for themselves “and others”. He also makes a strong argument with that, noting that the brand has increased it’s expenditures the highest level it has ever been, and their sales have increased more than 50% in the past year. Bill Morrissey, Vice President of Environmental Stability says that "Clorox is committed to its own journey of environmental stability". From a marketing perspective Clorox has made inventive attempts to reshape their image and to integrate new ideas and brands into their overall business model.

Overall, whether a company is repositioning their brand as greener or simply buying out already green brands for a more positive company image, green marketing takes a tremendous amount of creativity. Kindley Walsh Lawlor, Gap's (umbrella brand to Old Navy and Banana Republic) director of strategic planning and environmental affairs notes that when using green marketing to re brand, “it’s more of when it’s right for us as a company and when it’s right for the consumers.” Smart marketers have a knack for doing the right thing, at the right time, and targeting the right people. Companies who succeeded in sustainability must use this combination when it comes to green marketing. The consumer not only buys the product, they buy into marketing campaigns and it is essential to keep that at the forefront when creating a sustainable green marketing campaign. Lawlor, among other keynote speakers at the Branding for Sustainability (see above left) workshops, help companies and organizations find the right mix of branding, marketing, green initiatives, and corporate social responsibility to create a sustainable brand.

While this study offers an interesting perspective into what is to come in the next year, we cannot reject that we have undergone a cultural shift towards a greener economy which will continue to effect marketing tactics. While we are experiencing a tighter budget in many facets of life, which will of-course take a toll on marketing strategies, but will not end the age of green. Chief Marketing Strategist Bob Gilbreath argues that cause-marketing “ is still what will get the news” for marketers.

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