2012 was a big year for sustainability with major world events such as Rio+20 and the Summer Olympics and natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy propelling the conversation forward on a global platform. While the debate surrounding both causes and solutions continues to swirl, what is definite is that sustainability is part of a global dialogue.
Newsweek recently released its Green Rankings 2012 list, which highlights America's greenest companies. Environmental impact has become one of the biggest selling points for brands when striving to gain consumer attention. However, something I've noticed over the years is that the companies who are making green efforts can be placed into two different categories: those that are naturally perceived as green (therefore having to put very little energy into pushing their green message due to the nature of the product) and those that exercise green practices, yet whose efforts go relatively unnoticed if they are not purposely advertised.
Most everyone believes companies need to be "responsible for doing the right thing," but it was interesting to read that 84% of those surveyed in a recent Cone Communications study felt companies are also just as responsible for effectively communicating said actions. What's more, nearly half of those surveyed claimed they'd avoid a purchase if they couldn't find out about a brand's CSR efforts.
Regardless of your political affiliation, one can't help but admire the Obama campaign's relentless and successful marketing strategy. In the next few months, marketers of all stripes will be scrutinizing what worked and what missed the mark. As marketers, we can all learn more about our craft by studying this recent election cycle. In the following, let's examine how some of these lessons can be applied to green marketing strategies.
According to a recent BBMG Report, two out of three Americans would consider themselves a "Conscious Consumer," that is, more likely to buy from companies that offer energy-efficient products and commit to environmentally-friendly business practices. One in two Americans are even willing to pay a premium for products if they have proven environmental benefits.
In keeping with the spooky theme of the season, let's talk about a scary topic for a lot of folks in the C-suite: openly sharing the status of their sustainability efforts.
I consider myself to be quite environmentally conscious. But since I became the owner of an adorable puppy that eats anything in its path - and frantically scramble to pick up any trash on the sidewalk that he might eat - I've become acutely aware of the amount of garbage that we produce, so cavalierly discard, and the impact that it has on others.
"Going green" is being touted loud and clear these days. However, according to a study conducted by Cone Communications earlier this year, people aren't so quick to buy into products' claims of "greenness." In fact, consumer trust of green claims has decreased by 12% since 2008. Surveys have shown that consumers are increasingly turned off because of the price, skepticism, and confusion that surround green products.
Full disclosure: I'm not a fan of the term "green marketing." While phrased with the best intentions, it's far too limiting and self-serving for my taste. At its worst, it risks a myopic focus on leveraging environmental commitments to earn points with consumers. I've often thought, "Is the term green marketing itself green washing?"
The recently released Carbon Disclosure Project report doesn't exactly scream bedtime reading. It's 50-plus pages of findings from the CDP's annual survey of top global companies, written on behalf of 655 investors with assets of $78 trillion.