I read this great article on AdAge by Jennifer Maxwell-Muir called “How to Avoid Eco-Fatigue” where I thought she brought up a great topic and a good solid reaction to it. Maxwell-Muir has noticed the same things I have. Although the “be green” hype has had positive influences since it’s raising awareness about a lot of environmental issues, I have noticed that many companies are just slapping on the words “eco-friendly” every which way. So what to do if you’re truly a green company, like Patagonia – who seems to almost downplay what they do to make way for the future of our earth? Read below for Maxwell-Muir’s advice:
7 Tips to Avoid Eco-Fatigue
1. Be remarkable. You can make the “greenest” product on the planet, but unless it solves a significant consumer problem, works or tastes better than anything in the market and offers a good value in ratio to price, consumers won’t buy it.
2. Be green because it’s something you value, not as a marketing gimmick. Can coal really market the industry as being green and clean? What is Kermit the Frog doing with the Ford Escape? People smell falsehoods, and you go from bad to worse.
3. Don’t be bashful. A lot of truly “green” companies are afraid to speak up because it feels too self-righteous. Consumers actually appreciate your efforts, no matter the size, as long as they’re earnest and a step in the right direction. The amplification of your message can increase with your commitments.
4. Make it fun and engaging. Green doesn’t have to be staid. The average consumer doesn’t even know that the “hip” home cleaning products (is that an oxymoron?) made by Method are even green. And that’s entirely the point. This fast-growing brand wants consumers to love its product first — because they’re well-designed, smell beautiful and work well. They’re also planet friendly. Method’s attitude is: Why wouldn’t they be?
5. Partner with an established nonprofit. When Kettle Foods wanted to add a cause element to its new Backyard Barbecue flavor, it immediately thought of wildlife habitat protection because it’s something it does in its own backyard. To inspire consumers to apply the same principles at home, Kettle partnered with a respected nonprofit, the National Wildlife Foundation. Then it encouraged people to get involved by creating their own backyard wildlife habitats. Who wouldn’t want a bag of free chips as thanks for attracting local birds?
6. Invite consumers to join you. A flushable diaper doesn’t sound like a product that would inspire a cult following, but gDiapers realized early on that its core consumers were a vocal bunch. So gDiaper empowered them. By creating gMums and gDads, the company arms independent, trusted “spokespeople” with free product and the tools they need to spread the word. Doesn’t get much better than that.
7. Move beyond green. Green is a fad. Sustainability is continual improvement. If you’re only looking at energy consumption, you’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg. Businesses that endorse a “triple-bottom-line” approach — Organic Valley Farms, New Belgium and Clif Bar, to name a few — also address their affect on society in their communities. Environment is the third leg of the stool, but without the other two, you wouldn’t have a place to sit.