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How Sustainable is Your Sustainability Message?

Is your green brand, message or platform relevant? Can it stand the test of time? Does anyone care? We’ve always put these questions to the famous three-legged green bar stool test: Is your green marketing “Approachable,” “Believable,” and “Doable”?

© Park&Co 2009

© Park&Co 2009

This post covers the first leg: Is your green brand approachable? We believe that changing the average shopper to an eco-conscious consumer is not prompted by the radical fringes. Most people can’t see themselves plying the north Atlantic in a Zodiac saving whales, or huddled in a make-shift tree fort hugging a Sequoia in Berkley, or chained to a five-ton Caterpillar to keep a developer from blading the desert.

If you and your brand are going to entice eco-friendly behavioral change, then you absolutely most be a welcoming, guiding inspiration in your customer’s life.

One example of this approachability is Green Depot. It is a consumer focused “Home Depot” for green building and remodeling. The Wall Street Journal said, “With its boutique feel, the store is laser-focused on the consumer – not so much builders. And while protecting the environment is part of the shill, marketing puts heavy emphasis on keeping consumers healthier and saving them money on heating, cooling and other energy needs.”

The Green Depot gets it. They are both an online and bricks and mortar boutique that makes it fun and easy for consumers to embrace sustainable green products in their lives and homes.

patagoniaPatagonia has been “getting green” since the start. Their Footprint Chronicles allows you to track the impact of a specific Patagonia product from design through delivery. This is a welcome transparency and differentiator in the consumer products industry that allows you, the consumer, to make an educated choice on how and where to buy your apparel, and what tangible impact you may have on the environment with your decision.

And to prove eco-consumption isn’t just for the well-heeled, Walmart released the somewhat surprising findings from their green consumer survey just before Earth Day. It revealed an adoption rate increase of 66 percent from last year in its sustainability Live Better Index, which has been tracking consumers’ decisions to purchase five key eco-friendly products since April 2007. This growth in the sustainability index shows that concern for the environment has a growing presence in shopping baskets of the retailer’s 200 million annual customers.

Three of the 10 Ways to Measure the “Approachability” of Your Green Brand

  1. Make it Neighborly: Does your consumer feel like they have a vested interest in the promotion and outcome of your cause by purchasing or investing in your product or service? It’s that old adage: “Think Globally, Act Locally.”
  2. Make it Friendly: Are you selling from fear tactics, or are you helping to empower your consumer? We recommend empowerment, because change happens when people feel they have a choice that can positively impact an outcome.
  3. Make it Inclusive: Social norms almost always trump individual altruism. If everyone else appears to be doing it, then so should I. There is a terrific article in The Atlantic about “Social Proof,” that illustrates this concept.

Three of the 10 Pitfalls That Make Your Green Brand “Unapproachable”

berkeley-tree-sitters-protest-photo

Berkeley Tree Sitter

  1. Far-flung Causes: Although groups like The Water Project have an important mission of bringing clean water to Africa, it is so removed from the average American’s life experience that it’s difficult to compete with consumer mind-share based on more geographically immediate causes.
  2. Over Glamourization: When Animal Planet is trying to get its viewers to live vicariously through modern day eco-pirates like they feature on Whale Wars, it sort of sinks the entire eco-genre into the silly, silly fringes.
  3. Snootiness: Prius has a tremendous following of eco-evangelists of all shades of green.  Tesla Motors does not. One costs around $35k, the other $100k. Enough said.

Is your green brand approachable, believable and doable? Know of one that is?

You can learn “How To Reduce Your Carbon and Hype Footprints” AND make your green brand approachable, believable and doable, with my SlideShare presentation:


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7 Comments On This Topic
  1. Angela Howell posted
    July 4, 2009 at 6:54 am

    you have a great outlook on things!

  2. Park posted
    July 6, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Thanks for your note, Angela. I’m glad you enjoyed the article Great last name, BTW. : – )

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