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Mainstreaming Green: The 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.


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Before you can build new companies, brands, and products to inspire a better tomorrow, you must first take a closer look at what has and what hasn't worked up until now. Mainstreaming Green offers startups and established companies with solutions on how they can shift their purposeful thinking and messaging in order to connect with today's mainstream consumer.

North is a boutique private equity advisory and consulting firm focused on accelerating the growth of innovative early stage ventures.

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Mainstreaming Green: The 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

  1. 1. Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer. Get ready people, it’s now hip (again) to care. But even with all the hype, there are a number of What took so long right? Thanks to more concerned challenges and obstacles brands face when trying to consumers, a dash of post-Katrina pondering, rising sell purpose or ‘social responsibility’ to a mainstream prices at the pump, dependence on coal and foreign consumer. And in order for positive social change to oil, Al Gore and the environment playing a leading occur on a massive scale, corporations, entrepreneurs, role at the Academy Awards, and an onslaught of and marketers alike will need to become better new product offerings; purpose-related products educated and more aware of why these current and and services have quickly beamed their way up on prospective conscience consumers choose, buy, use, the consumer’s radar. and even dispose of purposeful products. You see, before we can build companies, brands, and products that inspire a better tomorrow, we must first take a closer look at what has and hasn’t worked up to now. 1 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  2. 2. Fringe Freak To Eco Chic You may have seen the term LOHAS float across your Wal-Marts of the world pushing ‘organic’ is a great step desk in recent years (it stands for Lifestyles of Health forward, but in order for large-scale change to happen, and Sustainability). LOHAS consumers are those who socially-constructive companies must refine the way we are passionate about the environment, sustainability, approach ALL consumers when selling purpose. You see, social issues, and health, and they typically make we’re not just talking to those affluent, European sport conscious purchasing decisions based on their social wagon consumers at the upscale mall, but we’re now and cultural values. Or as David Brotherton, a Seattle also chatting directly with those consumers filling up consultant in corporate responsibility describes, “The their mini-vans at the local Costco. people who used to drive the VW bus to the co-op are now driving the Volvo to Whole Foods.” So now’s the time for the difference-making entrepreneurs and brands of tomorrow to begin Over the years, we’ve given all kinds of names (some innovating and dialing in their brand voice. They more flattering than others) to the more purpose-driven must stop trying to only create for and sell to a market consumer: tree huggers, hippies, bohemians, cultural that mirrors themselves, as now a larger makeup of creatives, latte activists, conscience consumers, consumers are also thirsty for change. However, before crunchies, deep greens, cause consumers, eco-warriors, we can inspire them to make purposeful buying environmentalists, new progressives, and now Lohasians. decisions, we must first employ the same core marketing Whatever the clever name or acronym du jour may fundamentals that the great lifestyle brands of today be, businesses large and small are now paying closer have used when motivating large audiences. You to attention to this rapidly growing market, as this know, create that aspirational magnet and leave that passionate and influential audience now makes up a mirror behind. $228.9 billion U.S. marketplace for goods and services, that include, but are not limited to: Hurdles To Mass Adoption E For Effort, N For No Thanks • Renewable and Alternative Energies • Natural and Organic Products and Services Businesses have been actively participating in the • Health and Wellness purposeful (or green) space for years. While there have • Eco-Tourism and Alternative Transportation been many products with great intentions and even the • Green and Sustainable Building occasional breakthrough success, there have also been a • Clean Technologies string of bombs that have ultimately fueled widespread • Organic and Recyclable Fashion consumer reluctance to give new, more purposeful • Socially-Responsible Goods & Services products a spin. Or in some cases, an unwillingness to even let them improve over time. And while $228.9 billion dollars seems remarkable and is proof that this consumer psychographic has moved Who could forget all of those recycled paper products away from their fringe status of the past, there’s still a before Seventh Generation hit their stride? Let’s see lot of work left to be done if the end goal is healthy Charmin or sandpaper? Umm. How about those clunky social growth, not just bottom line income. Having the fluorescent bulbs that flickered and flickered until they 2 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  3. 3. Cont’d E For Effort, N For No Thanks eventually put out the same level of brightness as a night So while the sustainability issues we face on this light (Fortunately, things have vastly improved here. If planet are extremely pressing, they still remain incredibly futuristic to the mainstream consumer. Largely in part you haven’t already, switch over to the ice-cream-swirl CFLs, they’re the real deal.). Or did you or any of your because of the, “if it’s so important, why haven’t I friends try out some of those unflattering organic fashion noticed anything yet” attitude. It probably comes as little wearables circa 1992? Not exactly runway ready. surprise that the products that have made the biggest strides thus far are those in which consumers can reap an Okay, we could go on and on here, but the point is, immediate benefit; whether that’s better gas mileage with the product examples above unfortunately stunted the a hybrid vehicle or a reduced electric bill because of consumer’s desire to go sustainable. They left a bad taste making the switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. in the shopper’s mouth, and as you know, once you get However, there are thousands of other remarkable, food poisoning, it makes it awfully hard to try that same eco-friendly product offerings on the shelf, it’s just that dish again. But things have turned the corner in recent their effects cannot be felt or noticed so instantaneously. years, as the products have dramatically improved in functionality, quality, and style. And now that we have So how do we sell futuristic benefits? Perhaps we should some inventory with mainstream appeal, how do we take a look ‘outside of category’ for inspiration on how make the consumer feel firsthand the eco-benefit the to effectively communicate to the masses. Take the diet product provides? industry for example. Do you think if we spent 1/10th of the time we spend marketing diets and nutritional See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Feel No Evil? supplements aimed at reducing our consumption of fatty One of the key drivers of changing consumer behavior foods as we did with reducing the consumption of our has always been making the product or service connect precious resources (oil, coal, water), could we make more on an emotional level. Make it personal. Make it meaningful progress? Or will it take even higher gasoline relatable. You know, talk with your consumer, not prices, more rising temperatures, more droughts, and at them. A giant obstacle purposeful brands need to more frequent black outs before the green category overcome is their inability to connect with a mainstream becomes more personal and more relatable? audience that simply cannot see, feel, or even imagine the benefits that sustainable products deliver. Remember the heart smart icon that slowly found its way onto every chain restaurant menu? You know There’s no denying issues such as Global Warming the one, order this dish and it will reduce your risk at are complex and often difficult for most consumers to getting heart disease. Are we heading towards a future grasp. Because the majority of them can’t see or feel the where we will strategically place earth icons next to immediate good their purchases are delivering (i.e. like the most eco-friendly options on every menu and price reducing greenhouse gas emissions), it’s hard to get them list across every industry? Perhaps we can elicit our to switch from their favorite products to a sustainable desired behavioral change by dumbing it down for the alternative (and we haven’t even mentioned price, everyday consumer? You know, use those marketing quality, and availability). tactics that have successfully driven awareness for 3 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  4. 4. Cont’d See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Feel No Evil? other causes. How about an “earth icon” shampoo, cut, One greenwashing controversy in particular has recently and style at the salon. Anyone? surfaced its way on to countless environmental message boards on the Web. The instigator was an article earlier Hopefully in the not-so-distant future, all products will this year by The Economist titled, “Diesels Are The Smart just be inherently sustainable so consumers won’t have Green Choice.” The words that ignited the firestorm of to wrestle with or think about how and what they’re differing opinions: purchasing. But for now unfortunately, it is what it is. So as we look to build sustainable new businesses, we “The dirty little secret about hybrids is that their batteries not only need to create and inspire evangelists for and extensive use of aluminum parts make them costly to whatever sustainable products were selling, but we build in energy terms as well as financial terms. One also need to become brand evangelists for the bigger life-cycle assessment claims that, from factory floor to icon - - the earth itself. scrap heap, a Prius consumes more energy even than a Hummer H3.” Greenwashing: The Dirty Deceiving Little Secret With all the recent buzz surrounding the state of our As you can imagine, the article generated spirited environment, and corporations wearing the bulls eye blogger responses from both sides of the issue and for criticism, the more we hear the term greenwashing surfaced a number of studies comparing the lifetime being thrown around. Greenwashing is a portmanteau costs related to total energy consumption of hybrid vs. of the words green and whitewashing. Environmentalists non-hybrid vehicles. To no surprise, most of the studies use it to describe the act of giving a positive public had an agenda associated with them. The authors were image (a thin coat of green paint) to environmentally free to manipulate the statistics in their favor and only unsound practices. Corporations of course claim they are reveal the answers that their side wants to see. Shocking promoting sustainable development and communicating that they have become greener and more environmentally Unfortunately, all of this greenwashing leads to mass responsible. Hey, if companies can sell more widgets by skepticism with consumers. They don’t know what or painting them green, then we’re going to see more green who to believe anymore. Are these new products like widgets in the market. Hybrids really ‘difference making’ and better for the environment than a diesel vehicle? Or are these car The question is; Does green marketing contribute to manufacturers just taking advantage of a white hot the greening of consumer consciousness, or does it political or social opportunity to sell more cars? encourage corporate greenwashing? Well, probably a little of both. Examples of greenwashing can range Let’s not forget that consumers have smart ad radar from a supermarket giving you the option of paper or and a very low tolerance for bullshit. Google has quickly plastic to a big oil company funding studies to muddy turned all of us into private investigators. The Internet the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global has transformed us all into unregulated citizen climate change. 4 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  5. 5. Cont’d Greenwashing: The Dirty Deceiving Little Secret journalists. The successful companies of tomorrow stunt momentum and chastise someone for trying to be must become more transparent with their customer base socially-constructive. Every little bit helps. by talking openly and honestly about their practices. The ones that do this best will win and the ones that The fact is we are indeed living in a greenvenient society, continue to hide behind their giant logos and avoid the where the majority of people will only do “the good hard questions will be exposed and ultimately rejected. thing” if it’s made extra convenient for them. We need to recognize that a delicate balance exists between what Perfect Doesn’t Make Practice is good for the environment and what is good for me. Make no mistake, the entire future of the sustainability For example, if you were to take your wife’s Prius to movement depends on consumer behaviors being the spray wash and wanted to empty the trash from modified. Sure, corporations will hopefully continue the inside of the car (which includes some empty plastic to invest huge dollars into making their products water bottles), most of us would toss them in the trash more sustainable, but since consumer demand drives can three feet from the car instead of taking them home corporations, the future of our planet rests heavily on to our recycling bin. Why? Because it’s simply more the shoulders of Joe consumer. Yet even with numerous convenient that way. burning issues facing our environment, only a small portion of Joes are willing to change their consumption Now this is where it gets interesting, because an patterns and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. environmentalist that lives by an ‘eco-idealist’ code would probably point out flaw after flaw in this example, One of the reasons may be in how we’ve talked about from: 1) why are you going to a spray wash that wastes ‘social responsibility’ in the past. The term responsible ridiculous amounts of water in the first place?; to 2) has a weird rub to it. If you’re positioning your brand why is your wife consuming bottled water instead of as responsible does it also open it up to potential scrutiny putting filtered water into a re-useable container?; to 3) about other aspects of your business? In addition, by we’ll give you points for driving a Prius, but we’re going telling a consumer that they’ll be practicing social to take away double points for your family also owning responsibility by consuming your product, you’re also a gas-guzzling ’94 Chevy Suburban. in effect wagging your finger at them and telling that person they’re irresponsible when they don’t. When it comes down to it, the majority of us can easily be “out gooded” by a full-time “do gooder”, but what Here’s a thought. How about using the term benefit comes from making people feel guilty about the socially-constructive in lieu of socially-responsible? way they live? In the long run it only hurts the cause. For starters, it’s more accessible and doesn’t conjure It seems that no one is safe from criticism in this up thoughts of irresponsibility and negativity that are complex web of purpose (just ask Al Gore who in light detrimental to the larger movement. The truth is, we of everything he’s done to stimulate environmental sometimes just have to recognize when someone is awareness was recently attacked for his hefty home trying to do some good and they will hopefully strive electric bill in Tennessee). If the end goal is to make to get better each and every day. But please, let’s not sustainable living something consumers will aspire 5 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  6. 6. Cont’d Perfect Doesn’t Make Practice to and engage in on regular basis, we must stop benefits, it doesn’t necessarily need to be your lead preaching full-time perfection and begin applauding communication strategy. part-time cooperation. To no surprise, one brand often cited for mainstream Following Can Lead To Forgetting consumer crossover success, is biodegradable cleaning While the growing and greening marketplace has brand Method. Ranking No. 7 on Inc. Magazines 2006 attracted throngs of new, passionate consumers, it has list of the fastest-growing privately-held companies in also motivated a different kind of following – copycat the country, Method boasts an astounding three-year and unimaginative brand marketers. Before businesses growth rate of 3,390.5%. Their talented team took a can expect consumers to reach into their wallets and sign commodity household cleaner and built a unifying brand up for the next “it” product, they must first breakthrough idea that extends through their products, their packaging the unbelievable ‘green noise’ and visual clutter that design, their promotional materials, their corporate exists in the space. values, all the way down to their brilliant tagline, “People Against Dirty”. And they’ve done all of this It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to market a sports while remaining very price competitive with the other drink or a sports bra, all brands will have to bring some leading household brands. much-needed innovation to the table when establishing the look, tone, and feel for their products. Hint: the What Method did was smart. Instead of focusing solely on the rational benefit of being environmentally shelves at the store don’t need any more eco-friendly responsible (eco-brand quicksand), they used sharp brands using an expected leaf icon, an unmemorable tagline, and an earth-toned color palette. Your product branding and marketing fundamentals to stir up the may be remarkable on the inside, but if you don’t have emotions of the mainstream consumer (btw: one of what it takes to excite and motivate consumers on the their founders was an ex ad agency guy). If you pick up outside, your brand may soon be paving its own path a bottle of their all-purpose cleaner, the only purposeful to extinction. call-out on the label is the word biodegradable in 8 point type. Sure, there are a lot of prominent brands in this Just as it is with other industries, the brands that create space that have gotten “it”. Whole Foods, The Body Shop, a unique visual brand identity and voice wind up and Patagonia come to mind. But who will develop the generating the most buzz, capture the most eyeballs, winning companies of tomorrow’s more purposeful and generate the most cash register rings. With more and marketplace? more eco-friendly products entering the mix, consumers are quickly becoming immune from all of the me too, Let’s see, will it be those ‘green-only’ lifestyle zealots environmentally-responsible messaging. They’ve also or those sharp minds that have played in the dirt on become aware of this new type of eco-poser brand that the other side of the fence and successfully built and slyly tries to masquerade for something they are not – launched high-profile lifestyle brands in other industries? purposeful (remember greenwashing?). While it’s critical The choice is simple really. If our world is to ever make to make your consumer aware of your sustainable significant progress with the adoption of new, 6 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  7. 7. NORTH Mindmeld Cont’d Following Can Lead To Forgetting remarkable eco-friendly products and services, we At North, we’ve been eavesdropping on the purposesful need to take a page from the Methods of the world. consumer and bigger sustainable business movement for years. In order for new sustainable companies to succeed we While it’s taken a while for these new ideas to penetrate the must creatively sell environmental benefits by calling mainstream mindset, the non-listeners from the past are on those that have already memorized the playbook for now at least open-minded to hearing about the future. tapping into consumer emotion and inspiring widespread adoption; whether that’s been for a cleaning product, In this section, we highlight a few emerging companies and a designer sneaker company, an imported beer, or a inspirational entrepreneurs that are bringing much-needed four-wheel drive vehicle. innovation to the market. What we like about some of the following ideas is that they show us just how wide-open the possibilities are in the purposesful space. Instead of following Keys To Making The Perfect Play the map of those that came before them, these brands instead Using Fame To Change The Game have set out to sail in uncharted waters. These days, whether you’re scanning the rows of magazine covers at the grocery checkout or channel Reward Them And They May Respond surfing on the tube, it’s pretty hard to avoid imagery of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt holding one of their adopted Here’s a thought, would people pay more attention to that children. When Newsweek recently asked Angelina about all-too-familiar piece of POS hanging in their hotel bathroom if her not-so-low-profile humanitarian aid efforts and we gave them a decent discount on their over-priced 4-star room countless visits to refugee camps, she responded, “If I for saving both the hotel and the earth’s expensive resources? can draw you in a little because I'm familiar, then that's You know the message: “We are doing our part to preserve the great. Because I know that at the end you're not looking environment and invite you to help us conserve water by using at me, you're looking at them.quot; your towels more than once. Doing so will also reduce the amount of detergent waste that is recycled in our community. Funny, but she sounds remarkably similar to Paul Please hang your towels up if you wish to participate in this Newman, one of Hollywood’s first conscience celebrities water conservation program... if you choose not to participate, and one of the more famous social entrepreneurs on the simply leave your towels on the floor.” planet. When Newman was asked to describe what he was doing with his line of Newman’s Own products, Don’t you wish we lived in a proactive society, where consumers “shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common didn’t need incentive beyond “because it’s the right thing to do” good”, he replied. Newman was definitely ahead of his in order to choose one thing over another? Well, we can all keep time and remains an inspiration and role-model today. dreaming for that day to magically appear, or we can set out to Over the last 23 years, the pioneering Newman has do what some new, purposeful start ups are doing and offering donated over $150 million in profits for educational up some nice value-adds in order to stimulate change and and charitable purposes. connect with more of a mainstream consumer. 7 How © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  8. 8. Cont’d Using Fame To Change The Game Cont’d Reward Them And They May Respond Celebrities and entertainers have always been closely As much as the word ‘recycling’ surrounds us in our everyday tied with various causes; whether they’re strumming lives, the participation rates remain relatively modest (in the guitars for world hunger or telling jokes to raise money 30-33% range nationwide). So the question remains, why don’t for Katrina victims (more on using entertainment to more people recycle? RecycleBank, which just launched in enlighten later). These days it seems more and more Philadelphia, may be on to something - actually rewarding celebrities are becoming more known for “for what people for throwing waste in the right receptacle. The more your they’re passionate about” and less known for “who household recycles, the more it earns (up to $35 RecycleBank they’re dating”. Dollars a month). All RecycleBank dollars can be redeemed at one of 100 national and local participating retailers (the likes of Take this year’s Academy Awards. Even when the usual Starbucks, Petco, and Whole suspects used their airtime to push environmental Foods have already jumped awareness (Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, aboard). So far so good, as Melissa Etheridge), it actually didn’t come off as making recycling rates in one Philly a forced statement (like a Susan Sarandon moment did). neighborhood have already It seems the passionate pleas from this years Oscar’s were jumped from 30% to 90%. delivered in a much more approachable manner and that ( always makes it easier to digest. Also, the show went green behind the scenes; they used recycled paper, did an energy audit for the Kodak Theater, and even served How about paying $20 for a magazine subscription and in turn organic food at the Governor’s Ball. having that same twenty bucks then go to the charity of your choice? That’s precisely the offer behind Good Magazine, one Hey, whether it’s Scarlett Johansson filling up her Prius of the latest page flippers aiming to champion change. Good, hatchback with organic food and beauty products, which gives you the choice of selecting between 12 different Maggie Gyllenhaal announcing she’s using organic causes (from Millennium Promise to Creative Commons to World cloth diapers on her new baby girl, Oprah touting the Wildlife Fund) is the brainchild of its Founder Ben Goldhirsh. benefits of energy saving light bulbs on her show, or Not sure if giving away 100% of your profits is a sustainable Entourage star Adrian Grenier badging the fact that revenue model for a media he’s using recycled denim to insulate the walls of his company (which also includes Brooklyn home; there’s no denying the power and a film division called Reason influence celebrities wield in generating and spreading Pictures), but it’s certainly a purposeful change. transformative idea. When asked whom his magazine is Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame and his company for, the ambitious Goldhirsh Weapons of Mass Entertainment has just teamed up responds, “We’re selling this to with Greenpeace on an initiative which is focused on people who we think give a dreaming up new ways to mix media, art and celebrity damn.” ( with social activism. quot;If you can imagine Andy Warhol's Factory with Greenpeace in it and me in it,quot; Stewart told 8 How © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  9. 9. Cont’d Using Fame To Change The Game Cont’d Reward Them And They May Respond Reuters. “It is a hot house, a think tank.quot; Sounds lofty, It would sure seem like a tall order to play in the same not sure if it will be produce any number one hits, but purposesful sandbox as upscale, active wear brand Patagonia let’s give it a chance to lift off before we pop its balloon. (Pata-gucci for those of you in-the-know), but don’t tell that to For even more dish on how celebrities are using their Portland-based, active wear newbie Nau. Like the walk and talk fame to change the game, check out the eco-celebrity Patagonia and its inspirational CEO Yvon Chouinard have been gossip blog delivering for years, Nau is also blending beauty, performance, and sustainability into all of its products (all are made of recycled With all of the celebrities jumping into the game, will material and recyclable themselves). In hopes of luring more there be some less-than-genuine cause opportunists out consumers into its new retail home, Nau will offer up 10% there? Of course there are, but Ed Begley Jr., one of the discount to those customers that place their orders from in-store founding fathers of green in Tinseltown, sums it up best kiosks. The in-store Web kiosks are meant to reduce each store’s when half-joking about Hollywood’s involvement in the ecological footprint, operating costs, and energy consumption. movement towards a sustainable future, quot;there are some ( insincere people in this community who may have latched onto the environment because Africa was already taken, but,” he says, “even if you're only into this cause for a week, at least you're doing something positive for that week.quot; The truth is things need to change and if the folks living under the Hollywood sign want to use their visibility and money to create a more sustainable future, let’s applaud them. And maybe just maybe, they’ll stop backing purposeless ventures or theme restaurants like the Fashion Café and Planet Hollywood. Planet Hollywood wasn’t a bad thought, it was just that the concept had the wrong intentions. Why not really make it about the planet, Hollywood? Just imagine a While issues surrounding the planet and those in need are state-of-the-art restaurant that was 100% sustainable, sometimes tough to make accessible at the retail level, a that served organic, locally-grown food, donated 100% 30-year-old entrepreneur by the name of Blake Mycoskie figured of their profits to renewable energy research, and instead it out by keeping it simple. If you buy a pair of his Toms Shoes at of decorating the menus and walls with movie posters around $40/pair, Toms will also gift a pair to a deserving and props, instead used that real estate to educate youngster in an impoverished country. Mycoskie, who got the consumers on the state of our planet and encouraged idea for Toms (which btw stands for Shoes for Tomorrow), while them to give a damn. Now that’s a concept worth traveling in Argentina, always thought he’d spend the first half backing Arnie! of his life making money and the second half of his life giving it away. With Toms he’s exceeded his expectations, as he stumbled upon an idea that is as equally purposesful as it is profitable. 9 How © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  10. 10. Old Dogs Trying New Tricks Cont’d Reward Them And They May Respond One way in which many established brands have been And the message of the brand seems to be working, Mycoskie has dipping their feet in to the new purposeful pond, is by just bagged distribution deals at Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, and making modifications to their existing products. Instead Bloomingdale’s, and plans to begin selling in Australia, Japan, of completely re-structuring or re-positioning their entire and Western Europe this summer. ( company as sustainable overnight (next to impossible), many well-known heavy hitters have recently made some big strides when it comes to speaking to the more purposeful consumer. Timberland, which has routinely been ahead of their competition in practicing corporate responsibility, just updated the labeling on its footwear boxes to trumpet their environmental responsibility in a fresh, engaging manner. Packaging, which is often an overlooked communication vehicle, can open up a number of excellent branding opportunities. By taking the lead from the CPG industry, they transformed the traditional nutritional label into a communication that gives consumers information about the shoes they are These brands are at least trying to break through by taking a purchasing; from where it was manufactured, to how it different approach, but are we really on the cusp of trading out was produced, to its overall impact on the environment, our mileage cards for carrying around purposesful shopping which includes the amount of energy they used from cards? ( Who knows, but if some of renewable resources. these incentive efforts are able to speak more effectively to the mainstream, the “reward loyalty” idea of those cards can’t be “From the inside out, our new packaging tells the story far behind. Oh, and one last thought. Before you hospitality of who we are as a brand and conveys our commitment marketers out there go running with the idea mentioned at the to make it better,” explained Tracy Stokes, Timberland’s top of this section, you may want to spend some additional Senior Director of Global Brand Management. “The goal hours educating your is to reduce Timberland's environmental impact while housekeeping staff on your providing consumers with new information to help towel program. Because it guide them in the purchase process, while at the same seems every time you try to time, inspiring them to make their own positive impact,quot; do the “right thing’ by not she added. throwing your towel on the floor, they replace your used, Another noteworthy example of a big brand weaving hung up towel with a fresh responsibility into their product offering is giant UK one anyway. retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S). “Customers want good value, but they care more than ever how food and 10 How © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  11. 11. Change Agents Of Tomorrow Cont’d Old Dogs Trying New Tricks clothing products are made,” says M&S Chief Exec Stuart Sure the food, beverage, personal care, and clothing markets have Rose. Well, by simply listening to their customer, M&S made some of the biggest splashes (organic, nontoxic, free-range, has achieved some good. They recently launched their fairtrade, etc.) in the sustainable product space, but there have Look Behind The Label program, which does a nice job also been some game-changing entrepreneurial efforts using new of educating shoppers about its Fairtrade food and angles that have been popping up more frequently. clothing products. Okay, so you’re flying into LA for a three-day weekend and need Whether it’s Nike creating less waste and using less to line up a rent-a-car. Who do you call? Hertz? Budget? Avis? energy to manufacture their Considered line of shoes Why not try EV Rentals, the first U.S. rental car company whose or Levi’s selling an eco line of jeans using 100% organic entire fleet consists of hybrids. Rentals run from $39/day to cotton (they also include recycled buttons, rivets and $215/week. If you’re not sold, what if we told you that hybrid zippers), we need to encourage these efforts of bringing vehicles qualify for the carpool lane on those crowded California responsibility to retail. Brands like Timberland, M&S, freeways, even when you’re the only one in the car. Airport Nike, and Levi’s have huge followings and other brands locations include; LAX, Orange County, San Diego, San (big and small) should follow their leads. However, the Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. passionate must remain patient. We can’t make “all or nothing” demands on these large companies. We must hail these transparent efforts and recognize their importance in inspiring consumers, other brands, and entrepreneurs to shift their current thought processes. Championing Change From Within It used to be that brands would promote socially- constructive or environmentally-friendly efforts within their human resources department with the sole purpose EV Rental's mission is “to provide the most technologically of making an impression on current or prospective advanced environmental vehicles to the general public as soon as employees. However, now those efforts are more and they are available, to educate the public and raise the awareness more frequently aimed at gaining the support of of the benefits of driving clean-fuel cars, and create a market for environmentalist groups and for rubbing off on clean car technologyquot;. The company claims to have prevented their discriminating customers. more than 100 tons of air pollution and to have passed on more than one million dollars in fuel cost savings to its customers. Several big corporations and their highly visible leaders Now why hasn’t this gone worldwide yet? We think it’s only a after being pushed towards more sustainable practices by matter of time. ( various activists for years, are now becoming role models for change. One would never think of mentioning Anyone that leads with a headline that reads, “Changing The Wal-Mart in the same breath with the Whole Foods of World One Story At A Time”, must be prepared to back it up. the world, but to their credit the Bentonville behemoth Participant Productions Founder Jeff Skoll (former president has made significant steps to evangelize purpose from and employee #1 at online powerhouse eBay) has backed up 11 How © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  12. 12. Cont’d Championing Change From Within Cont’d Change Agents Of Tomorrow within. They’ve been working with Conservation that statement and then some since assembling an all-star team International to help shape ambitious goals for slicing of entertainment executives back in 2004. Together his team has and dicing their total energy consumption. Wal-Mart, built an environment to ‘foster which is the largest private purchaser of electricity in storytelling that engages the the U.S., has put forth an aggressive plan to reduce audience, generates awareness energy demands in all of its facilities by 30% in the of topical and interesting issues next ten years. and inspires individuals to take action.’ Speaking of Whole Foods, they’ve just become the biggest corporate user of wind power in the country. They inked a two-year contract with Renewable Choice Even if you’re not familiar with Participant as a brand name, Energy to purchase 458,000 megawatt-hours of wind you’ve surely heard of some of the titles coming out of their energy credits. That’s enough to cover energy use for offices in the last three years: Fast Food Nation, Murderball, all of its stores, bakeries, distribution centers, regional Syriana, And Good Night, And Good Luck, as well as last year’s offices, and corporate headquarters in Austin. This effort global warming eye-opener, An Inconvenient Truth. As we know, has also led to a consumer-facing promotional partnership, films have the power to move and amass quite a following. With where customers can purchase $15 wind power cards that big of an audience in tow, we look forward to Participant (basically renewable energy credits) right along with their launching even more brand initiatives aimed around inspiring yoga mag and Burt’s Bees lip balm at check out. consumer action. ( “Right now, the main benefit is public relations,quot; said Lastly, we have to mention this category-shifting, entrepreneurial Andrew Aulisi, Senior Associate at the nonprofit World idea coming out of the Netherlands. Enviu, an international non- Resources Institute. “For a company like Whole Foods, profit organization for young entrepreneurs, is working together which has a particular kind of clientele, I can imagine with an architectural firm to create a truly Sustainable Dance this is an important way they relate to their customers.quot; Club. At the core of the idea is an energy-generating dance floor that will offset the club’s energy consumption. In addition, the On the technology front, both Nokia and Dell are leading toilets will flush with rainwater, the walls will change color as the way for doing away with toxic chemicals and have reaction to temperature changes, and they’ll have a rooftop garden. set measures for eliminating polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other harmful substances from their current and future product lines. And companies like Clif Bar and Google are offering their employees $5,000 towards the purchase of a hybrid. Clif Bar is even offering $2,500 toward the lease of a vehicle that obtains a partial zero emissions vehicle emissions rating of at least 45 mpg. If you were having trouble thinking outside the expected box and You can read about more future-looking companies making sustainability attractive and cost-effective, you may just participation in these types of vehicle programs at want to order a glass of what they’re drinking over in Rotterdam. This is cool. ( 12 How © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  13. 13. Cont’d Championing Change From Within Want to talk about other organizations with loyal Case, on the other hand is looking to revolutionize the followings, even religious groups have joined the health and wellness industry by trading out his familiar ecological movement. The national organization “you’ve got mail” days for the more empowering “you’re Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life is now in control” rallying cry., using the sponsoring a drive to install efficient compact-florescent collective “social wisdom” of its users, offers more than light bulbs. No Joke here, their pitch: “How Many Jews 125 free tools and online services that help people live Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?” Mazal Tov! healthier – from losing weight to determining what an ailment might be to tracking one’s overall health In addition, we would be doing this section a disservice progress. if we didn’t mention the likes of Buffet, Gates, Branson, Case, and Doerr when talking about charismatic leaders “ is not just another health site – championing change by donning the hat of a Cause we are working to build the online destination where Capitalist. While all these men are well-known and you can ‘take action’ to improve your health or your respected for devoting a large chunk of their time and family’s health. It’s time to use the power of the Internet money to philanthropic causes, they’ve recently stepped to reform health care with a ‘people-powered’ approach up their efforts to bring an even greater sense of urgency to health - giving parents, patients, and caregivers all to the purposeful movement. the tools they need to manage their health care needs and live healthier lives,” said Case. Branson, who also heads up Virgin Unite (, Virgin's independent charitable arm designed to drive The encouraging signs coming out of all of this, entrepreneurial approaches to social and environmental it seems as if the corporate world, entrepreneurs, issues, says that he’ll contribute an estimated $3 billion in and environmentalists are now teaming up to work personal profits over the next 10 years to develop energy constructively together. Everyone’s coming around sources that do not contribute to global warming. to the idea that business has the innovation chops “Our generation has inherited an incredibly beautiful and entrepreneurial flair to solve problems in ways world from our parents and they from their parents,” that government regulation will never match. The more said the maverick entrepreneur. “It is in our hands these companies, investors, and business leaders tackle whether our children and their children inherit the same issues like sustainability and health care, the more world. We must not be the generation responsible for benefit they will ultimately see from a customer irreversibly damaging the environment.” relation’s perspective, from profit potential, and from moving that purposeful needle. In addition, Branson announced earlier in the year that he’s offering a $25 million prize for scientists who find However, we must be realistic. These issues are not a way to help save the planet from the effects of climate going to be solved, cured, or reversed by a handful of change by removing at least a billion tons of carbon thoughtful billionaires. It’s going to take our collective dioxide a year from the Earth's atmosphere. thinking and effort to right this (mother) ship. 13 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  14. 14. Enlighten With Entertainment Let’s see, first there was Live Aid in 1985, which time they’re only focused on the entertainment – opened the world’s eyes to the famine issues in Africa, right message, wrong time). then Willie Nelson and John Cougar Mellencamp Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson has inspired a slew of organized Farm Aid to raise awareness and money for artists from the Dixie Chicks to Pearl Jam to Cold Play family farmers. Comic Relief, A Tribute To Heroes benefit as well as music festivals like Bonnaroo to begin putting after the attacks on 9/11, the benefit for Hurricane on more eco-friendly shows. Johnson who put on one Katrina victims, Live 8, the list goes on and on. of the first carbon-neutral tours, teamed up with other businesses to donate a portion of his tour sales to Whatever the issue, artists and entertainers have a environmental causes, as he teamed up with the long history of putting on benefit concerts or charitable organization 1% For The Planet. The tour also ran all events for causes that matter to them. By joining forces of their buses and trucks on bio-diesel fuel. Now more with other like-minded entertainers, these events have and more artists seem to be joining the movement to always been a powerful tool for drawing attention to an reduce their carbon footprint and bring attention to immediate humanitarian crisis and generating massive the bigger issue of climate change. awareness for a specific cause. This summer, all eyes (and ears) will be on Live Earth – While many of these efforts seem to garner a lot of The Concerts For A Climate In Crisis. This revolutionary media hype, attract A-list talents, and raise significant effort hopes to inspire two billion sets of eyeballs with its funds, are they mere causal marketing “one-offs” that motivating message. Live Earth, which takes center stage consumers buy, listen, and discard or are they powerful on 7/7/07, will feature seven separate concerts on all vehicles for establishing a commitment to long-term seven continents (not sure who’s getting the Antarctica change? There’s no question that entertainers and gig) and is being spearheaded by The Alliance For musicians have passionate and loyal followings and can Climate Protection and you guessed it, its chair and attract huge crowds, but it seems that in order to inspire former veep, Al Gore. massive change, it will clearly take bringing more innovation and new thinking to the plug and play quot;We have to get the message of urgency and hope out,quot; “concert for a cause” formula. Gore expressed. quot;In order to solve the climate crisis, we have to reach billions of people. The climate crisis will In recent years, there have been a few new spins on only be stopped by an unprecedented and sustained the old concept. Boost Mobile RockCorps is concept global movement.quot; that makes the consumer do their part before the actual concert. In order to get a ticket to the show, you must The artists themselves (over 100 committed at the time of first put in at least four hours of volunteering in your this writing), are also psyched up for the worldwide event community. This is a great way to generate awareness being produced by Control Room (same crew responsible and ignite consumer involvement prior to the main for bringing the world Live 8 on AOL). Tom Chaplin, lead event, rather than just handing the concert goer some singer of the band Keane was the first to sign up to educational literature once they’re in the gate (by that 14 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  15. 15. 9 Rules To Live By Enlighten With Entertainment participate. “This is something we feel very strongly 1. Innovate Your Approach. about so we want to help get this message to as many From what you’re offering to how you’re selling it, to people as possible. The idea of these concerts is to where you’re saying it. Hey, if you’re number one tactic create a tipping-point, a trigger to start a whole new for creating mainstream awareness and action in this way of thinking about our relationship with the world,” space is sending street teams out to organic grocery said Chaplin. stores with clip boards and free t-shirts, please go back to the whiteboard and push yourself to innovate. Here’s to tipping, triggering AND transforming… 2. Feed The Early Birds. We’ve talked a lot about how to the target the Making Purpose A Natural Reflex mainstream consumer, but don’t forget to the use the influential circles of your early adopters (including Wikipedia describes a reflex action or reflex as a appropriate celebs). Where and when appropriate, these biological control system linking stimulus to response. tastemakers still have huge pull and can be extremely Reflexes can be built-in or learned. They define a beneficial in changing the consumption behaviors of conditioned reflex as involving the modification of the bigger flock. a reflex action in response to experience (learning). A stimulus that produces a simple reflex response 3. Quit Hatin’. becomes linked with another, possibly unrelated, We can’t express this enough. Stop attacking people that stimulus. For example, a dog may salivate (a reflex are a lighter shade of green than you. Consumers don’t action) when it sees its owner remove a can-opener respond well to criticism. Quit preaching and expecting from a drawer because it has learned to associate that perfection. Highlight the good they have the ability to stimulus with the stimulus of being fed. make, not the bad they will cause by not participating. Okay, where are we going? In order to make purposeful 4. Exercise Patience. consumption a natural consumer reflex, we must first This is a courtship, not a one-night stand. First, get them put out the necessary stimulus in bulk (accessible to be more comfortable with the process of thinking products and approachable messaging). Changing hearts, constructively about their shopping choices. Sure, we’d minds, and consumer behavior is no easy to task. like to make it Earth Day everyday, but this is going to Communicating a sense of urgency at the same time take some time to sink in. is even harder. In order to make the mainstream herd care enough to alter their lifestyle, the entrepreneurs and marketers of tomorrow must not rely on others to do the heavy lifting. If we all unite and use our minds, products, money, and messaging to awaken and stimulate consumer consciousness, we can begin to create that natural reflex; and shift the scales in the planet’s favor at the same time. 15 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.
  16. 16. Cont’d 9 Rules To Live By 5. Psst. Listen Closely. 9. Encourage Participation. Before you can motivate your consumer into action, Let your consumers know that they’re in control and you must understand their emotional and rational they can truly affect change on their own. No one drivers. By listening to them and offering up better ways wants to feel overwhelmed and helpless. for them to collaborate with you (customer feedback (a greenish Daily Candy) does an excellent job of this forums, message boards, blogs, social networking with their daily “Bang For The Bite” Their facts are fun communities), you will have a better idea for how to and easy to digest: “If 10,000 Biters skip the airplane deliver meaningful messaging that gets results. bathroom, we’ll avert the CO2 caused by one Biter flying roundtrip between LA & NYC about 15 times.” Sign up 6. Make An Offer They Can’t Refuse. and give it a spin. Many consumers still need to see the price/quality value relationship swing in their favor before they jump If you’re a forward-thinking entrepreneur that is onboard. Not only do you have to convince this crowd planning to launch a socially-constructive brand that consuming your product does something worthy, or have a purposeful venture in need of penetrating but you have to show them it’s worth it as well (yep, the mainstream, please contact a North Partner and rewarding them helps). we’ll set up some time to talk shop. 7. Make It Personal Not Planetary. The best way to get a hold of a North Partner is We said it earlier – make it personal, make it relatable, by sending a short email introduction to us at make it simple. We know consumers respond to more tangible connections – whether you relate consumption to their health or to their monthly energy bills. Don’t North Venture Partners is a Los Angeles and overwhelm them. Not everyone has a PhD in San Francisco based strategic consulting and Environmental Sciences. If your call to action is stating investment firm that works with early-stage, less and less about how the consumer can benefit and socially-constructive ventures. more like an internal press release, hit the delete button. The North team includes a diverse collection of 8. Don’t Wait. Lead. venture development, financial advisory, and brand Nothing can hurt credibility with consumers more than marketing change agents: we work with early-stage a company that won’t take proactive measures to become ventures to deliver the planning and execution more purposesful. So instead of waiting for someone to needed to connect with consumers and ultimately come down on you (they will, it’s only a matter of time), with investors. step outside of your comfort zone and begin developing alternative methods, products, and programs that will be viewed in a positive light. 16 © 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.