Four years ago, I saw the CEO of Patagonia, Yvonne Chouinard, tell a crowd that his company and other companies could make more money by going green. He was referring to finding sustainable methods of creating products, but,also, his message related to a company’s image. Consumers were making more informed decisions and were evaluating what product was better for the environment, and themselves.
“Green” was about the environment, and health; it became the right choice.
There are some interesting observations here. The first comes from Chouinard’s speech, in that a company can make more money going green, by being “responsible,” as he called it. The second: consumers were, and continue to, purchase “green” because it is viewed as the right choice, and sometimes, the right choice isn’t the cheapest. That is, some consumers are ignoring the price tag and are instead acknowledging their conscience.
The startling observation, though, comes with the fact that we have been marketing “green” all along. Marketing can be used to convey a company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to the public. A shift occurred when companies started to market their products and their company as responsible (with regards to impact on the environment and health). In addition to this, consumers continued to evolve and are now making more informed decisions.
If consumers continue to adapt, every company will need to boast their high level of responsibility. As such, it will become the norm, and thus, just a Selling Proposition -- far from unique. The marketing will need to adapt again. The so-called “green marketing” will begin to fade, and marketers will dig for a different proposition to sell their products to consumers.
This brings us to another observation: a company’s Unique Selling Proposition can shift with the cultural climate, which isn’t a bad thing if what is being marketed is the truth. However, some 50-year-old and older companies have stayed true to their USP for decades, and that’s respectable. There’s a reason for this; they are actually providing something unique. Their messaging doesn’t need to change because it endures throughout cultural shifts in perception.
I’m not saying it’s better to remain static with your messaging, but I am saying that there’s something to strive for here: a value proposition that is truly unique. When you can provide this, you won’t need to worry about the cultural climate because your company will always be anchored, even in the fiercest storm.