The New Rules of Green Marketing

Strategies, Tools, and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding

By Jacquelyn Ottman

Publication date: 01/01/2011

The New Rules of Green Marketing

Green products have been around since the 1970s, but it’s only in recent years that they’ve become ubiquitous. It’s not because consumers suddenly prize sustainability above all. It’s because savvy green marketers are no longer trying to “sell the earth”—instead they’re promoting the value their products provide: better health, superior performance, good taste, cost-effectiveness, or simply convenience. This central emphasis on primary benefits—the new rules—is critical to winning over the mainstream consumer.

The New Rules of Green Marketing helps readers understand why value-based sustainability marketing has become a critical organizational capacity and how they themselves can adopt this approach. Drawing on the latest data from leading researchers and reflecting on learnings from her corporate clients and other pioneers—including GE, Nike, Method, Starbucks, Timberland, HP, NatureWorks, Procter & Gamble, Stonyfield Farm, and Wal-Mart—Ottman provides practical strategies, tools, and inspiration for building every aspect of a credible value-based green marketing strategy. She covers using a proactive approach to sustainability to spur innovation, developing products that are green throughout their life cycle, communicating credibly to avoid accusations of “greenwashing,” teaming up with stakeholders to maximize outreach to consumers, taking advantage of social media, and much more.

This book takes the best of Ottman’s previous groundbreaking work it into the 21st century. Her new rules relegate traditional “green guilt” approaches to the recycling bin of history, break green products out of their niche and, ultimately do a far better job of advancing the triple bottom line of people, profits, and planet.

Green products have been around since the 1970s, but it’s only in recent years that they’ve become ubiquitous. It’s not because consumers suddenly prize sustainability above all. It’s because savvy green marketers are no longer trying to “sell the earth”—instead they’re promoting the value their products provide: better health, superior performance, good taste, cost-effectiveness, or simply convenience. This central emphasis on primary benefits—the new rules—is critical to winning over the mainstream consumer.

The New Rules of Green Marketing helps readers understand why value-based sustainability marketing has become a critical organizational capacity and how they themselves can adopt this approach. Drawing on the latest data from leading researchers and reflecting on learnings from her corporate clients and other pioneers—including GE, Nike, Method, Starbucks, Timberland, HP, NatureWorks, Procter & Gamble, Stonyfield Farm, and Wal-Mart—Ottman provides practical strategies, tools, and inspiration for building every aspect of a credible value-based green marketing strategy. She covers using a proactive approach to sustainability to spur innovation, developing products that are green throughout their life cycle, communicating credibly to avoid accusations of “greenwashing,” teaming up with stakeholders to maximize outreach to consumers, taking advantage of social media, and much more.

This book takes the best of Ottman’s previous groundbreaking work it into the 21st century. Her new rules relegate traditional “green guilt” approaches to the recycling bin of history, break green products out of their niche and, ultimately do a far better job of advancing the triple bottom line of people, profits, and planet.

  • By a trailblazing expert in green marketing

  • Demonstrates how to effectively market green to mainstream consumers

  • Filled with success stories from sustainability leader including Ottman's Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial clients

  • Click Here for Press Release

 

Green products have been around since the 1970s, but it's only in recent years that they've become ubiquitous. That's because savvy green marketers are no longer targeting "deep green" consumers with a "save the planet" pitch. Instead, they're promoting the added value their products provide: better health, superior performance, good taste, or cost-effectiveness. In this innovative book Ottman argues that emphasizing primary benefits -- the New Rules -- is critical to winning over the mainstream consumer.

Drawing on the latest poll data and incorporating lessons learned from her clients and other leading sustainable brands -- including GE, Nike, Method, Starbucks, Timberland, HP, NatureWorks, Procter & Gamble, Stonyfield Farm, and Wal-Mart -- Ottman provides practical strategies, tools, and inspiration for building every aspect of a credible value-based green marketing strategy. She covers such topics as spurring innovation through a proactive approach to sustainability, developing products that are green throughout their life cycle, communicating credibly to avoid accusations of "greenwashing," teaming up with stakeholders to maximize outreach to consumers, taking advantage of social media, and much more.

The New Rules of Green Marketing captures the best of Ottman's two previous groundbreaking books on green marketing and places it within a 21st Century context. Focusing on a new generation of marketers who likely grew up with an appreciation for sustainability, it provides in one place essential strategies, tools, and inspiration for connecting effectively with mainstream consumers.

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Overview

Green products have been around since the 1970s, but it’s only in recent years that they’ve become ubiquitous. It’s not because consumers suddenly prize sustainability above all. It’s because savvy green marketers are no longer trying to “sell the earth”—instead they’re promoting the value their products provide: better health, superior performance, good taste, cost-effectiveness, or simply convenience. This central emphasis on primary benefits—the new rules—is critical to winning over the mainstream consumer.

The New Rules of Green Marketing helps readers understand why value-based sustainability marketing has become a critical organizational capacity and how they themselves can adopt this approach. Drawing on the latest data from leading researchers and reflecting on learnings from her corporate clients and other pioneers—including GE, Nike, Method, Starbucks, Timberland, HP, NatureWorks, Procter & Gamble, Stonyfield Farm, and Wal-Mart—Ottman provides practical strategies, tools, and inspiration for building every aspect of a credible value-based green marketing strategy. She covers using a proactive approach to sustainability to spur innovation, developing products that are green throughout their life cycle, communicating credibly to avoid accusations of “greenwashing,” teaming up with stakeholders to maximize outreach to consumers, taking advantage of social media, and much more.

This book takes the best of Ottman’s previous groundbreaking work it into the 21st century. Her new rules relegate traditional “green guilt” approaches to the recycling bin of history, break green products out of their niche and, ultimately do a far better job of advancing the triple bottom line of people, profits, and planet.

Green products have been around since the 1970s, but it’s only in recent years that they’ve become ubiquitous. It’s not because consumers suddenly prize sustainability above all. It’s because savvy green marketers are no longer trying to “sell the earth”—instead they’re promoting the value their products provide: better health, superior performance, good taste, cost-effectiveness, or simply convenience. This central emphasis on primary benefits—the new rules—is critical to winning over the mainstream consumer.

The New Rules of Green Marketing helps readers understand why value-based sustainability marketing has become a critical organizational capacity and how they themselves can adopt this approach. Drawing on the latest data from leading researchers and reflecting on learnings from her corporate clients and other pioneers—including GE, Nike, Method, Starbucks, Timberland, HP, NatureWorks, Procter & Gamble, Stonyfield Farm, and Wal-Mart—Ottman provides practical strategies, tools, and inspiration for building every aspect of a credible value-based green marketing strategy. She covers using a proactive approach to sustainability to spur innovation, developing products that are green throughout their life cycle, communicating credibly to avoid accusations of “greenwashing,” teaming up with stakeholders to maximize outreach to consumers, taking advantage of social media, and much more.

This book takes the best of Ottman’s previous groundbreaking work it into the 21st century. Her new rules relegate traditional “green guilt” approaches to the recycling bin of history, break green products out of their niche and, ultimately do a far better job of advancing the triple bottom line of people, profits, and planet.

  • By a trailblazing expert in green marketing

  • Demonstrates how to effectively market green to mainstream consumers

  • Filled with success stories from sustainability leader including Ottman's Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial clients

  • Click Here for Press Release

 

Green products have been around since the 1970s, but it's only in recent years that they've become ubiquitous. That's because savvy green marketers are no longer targeting "deep green" consumers with a "save the planet" pitch. Instead, they're promoting the added value their products provide: better health, superior performance, good taste, or cost-effectiveness. In this innovative book Ottman argues that emphasizing primary benefits -- the New Rules -- is critical to winning over the mainstream consumer.

Drawing on the latest poll data and incorporating lessons learned from her clients and other leading sustainable brands -- including GE, Nike, Method, Starbucks, Timberland, HP, NatureWorks, Procter & Gamble, Stonyfield Farm, and Wal-Mart -- Ottman provides practical strategies, tools, and inspiration for building every aspect of a credible value-based green marketing strategy. She covers such topics as spurring innovation through a proactive approach to sustainability, developing products that are green throughout their life cycle, communicating credibly to avoid accusations of "greenwashing," teaming up with stakeholders to maximize outreach to consumers, taking advantage of social media, and much more.

The New Rules of Green Marketing captures the best of Ottman's two previous groundbreaking books on green marketing and places it within a 21st Century context. Focusing on a new generation of marketers who likely grew up with an appreciation for sustainability, it provides in one place essential strategies, tools, and inspiration for connecting effectively with mainstream consumers.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Jacquelyn Ottman



At age four, her siblings called her ""Junkie Jacquie"" when she dragged home treasures from the neighbor's trash. At age thirty-four, Jacquie pioneered green marketing by founding J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. Her mission: apply her in-depth consumer packaged goods expertise, with a creative bent for dreaming up new products and her finely honed strategic instincts, to help businesses develop and market the next generation of products designed with sustainability in mind.

With a client rosted that includes over 60 of the Fortune 500, the USDA's BioPreferred and other U.S. government labeling programs, Ottman is a sought-after keynoter for conferences and corporate forums around the globe. She is a founding co-chair of the Sustainabile Business Committee of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York. She is also the former co-chair of the NYC chapter of O2, the global network of green designers, and was founding jury chair for the American Marketing Association's Special Edison Awards for Environmental Achievement in New Products.

In 2004, she spearheaded the IDSA-endorsed Design:Green educational initiative with the goal of jumpstarting eco-design education in the U.S. Underwritten with an Innovation Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Design:Green now continues as a course in the online Certificate in Sustainable Design program of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

The author of hundreds of articles on green marketing topics, she blogs at Jacquie Ottman's Green Marketing Blog (www.greenmarketing.com/blog), as well as for the Harvard Business Review and other websites.

Her three previous books on green marketing have been translated into five languages.

Ottman is a graduate of Smith College and lives in New York City. The widow of Geoffrey S. Southworth, an industrial recycler, she is the proud stepmother of his three children and two grandchildren.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
The 20 New Rules of Green Marketing
Chapter One: Green is now mainstream
Chapter Two: We Are All Green Consumers
Chapter Three: The New Green Marketing Paradigm
Chapter Four: Designing Greener Products: A Life-cycle Approach
Chapter Five: Innovate for Sustainability
Chapter Six: Communicating Sustainability With Impact.
Chapter Seven: Establishing Credibility and Avoiding Greenwash.
Chapter Eight: Partnering for Success
Chapter Nine:Two Sustainability Leaders that Superbly Address the New Rules
Conclusion
For Further Information
Endnotes
About the Author
Index

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Excerpt

Green is now mainstream

Back in the 1960s, trying to lead an environmentally conscious lifestyle, and especially integrating green into one's shopping, was a very fringe phenomenon. But it's now decidedly mainstream – and changing the rules of the marketing game in a very big way. Set in motion by Rachel Carson's seminal book Silent Spring (1962), the clichéd forerunners of today's green consumers lived off the nation's electric grid, installed solar-powered hot-water heaters on their roofs, crunched granola they baked themselves, and could be spotted wearing hemp clothing, Birkenstocks, and driving a Volkswagen bus. Whatever greener products were available – mostly from fringe businesses, and sometimes manufactured in basements and garages – gathered dust on the bottom shelves of health food stores for good reason: they didn't work, they were pricey, and they sported brand names no one had ever heard of. Not surprisingly, there was little demand for them. The natural laundry powders that were introduced in response to the phosphate scare of 1970 left clothes looking dingy, first-generation compact fluorescent light bulbs sputtered and cast a green haze, and multigrain cereals tasted like cardboard. If you were motivated to recycle, you lugged your bottles and daily newspapers to a drop-off spot inconveniently located on the far side of town. Green media was limited to treasured copies of National Geographic, PBS specials of Jacques Cousteau's underwater adventures, and the idealist and liberal Mother Jones, Utne Reader, and New Age magazines.

That was then. Times have changed – a lot, and with them the rules of green marketing. Today, mirroring their counterparts around the world, 83% of today's American adults can be considered at least some “shade” of green.1 They enjoy a lifestyle where sustainable choices are highly accessible, attractive and expected. Thanks to advances in materials and technology, today's “greener” products (defined as having a lighter impact on the planet than alternatives) and today's more “sustainable” products (those that add a social dimension, e.g., fair trade) now not only work well, they likely work better and more efficiently than their “brown” counterparts.

Moreso, the channels of distribution have changed. Today, sustainable products are readily available in conventional supermarkets such as Fred Meyer and Safeway, brightly lit emporiums such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market, and of course online. Once confined to rooftops, solar power is now mobile, fueling a modern-day, on-the-go lifestyle embedded in cellphone chargers, backpacks, and even the latest fleet of powerboats. Once confined to the tissue boxes or wrappers of days gone by, recycled content is now good enough for Kimberly-Clark's own Scott Naturals line of tissue products and Staples' EcoEasy office paper, not to mention an exciting range of many other kinds of products from Patagonia's Synchilla PCR (post-consumer recycled) T-shirts made from recycled soda bottles, and even cosmetics packaging like that made from recycled newsprint which embellishes Aveda's Uruku brand, to name just a few.

The green market is not just here to stay, it will also grow and mature, evolving the rules of engagement even further. Knowing how best to cater to today's green consumers will bring significant opportunities to grow your top-line sales and revenue growth and increase your market share among the fast-growing numbers of green consumers, as well as to save money, enhance employee morale, and recruit and retain the brightest minds. As we'll discuss throughout this book, it will also stimulate game-changing innovation, and the ability to enhance your corporate reputation. Embrace sustainability – defined as acting today so that future generations can meet their needs – and enjoy long-term markets for your products, while safeguarding the sources of raw materials on which your very business depends.

Everyone is worried

Green has gone mainstream because more people are worried about sustainability-related issues than ever before. Reflecting awareness that has been steadily building over the past 20 years, the general public is beginning to comprehend the impact these issues will have on their lives now, and in the years ahead – and is starting to act.

Figure 1.1 Top environmental issues of concern

% U.S. adults indicating that the following issues concern them

image

Source: © Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), 2009 LOHAS Consumer Trends Database®
All Rights Reserved

Historically, green marketers believed that people worried about the environment because they felt the planet was hurting – and their communications reflected as much. (Recall all the ads of days gone by featuring babies, daisies, and planets.) But today's marketers increasingly realize that consumers really fear the planet is losing its ability to sustain human life; they fret about their own immediate health, and that of their children. (Keep in mind that the planet will always be here!) That's why health-related issues such as water quality, hazardous waste and air pollution, water availability, global warming, and overpopulation top the list of environmental concerns consumers fear most (see Fig. 1.1).

This fear has been building for a long time. Toxic waste poisoning the water and community of Love Canal in New York State and the Cuyahoga River's catching fire in Cleveland, Ohio in 1972 put air and water quality at the top of Americans' worry list. Throw in the plight of the Mobro garbage barge that in 1987 searched in vain for a port, and packaging became a worry, too. The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans in the summer of 2005, Al Gore's 2006 Oscar-winning movie An Inconvenient Truth, and a steady stream of news reports that the Earth is warming and the ice caps are melting introduced the frightening prospect of climate change into living rooms. As I write, America deals with the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with projections of devastation worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.

Toxics – whether they are generated far away in industrial plants or reside in cleaning products tucked under the kitchen sink – are firmly planted on the list, too, fanned by a steady spate of scares over such chemicals as asbestos, PCBs and their dioxin and hormonal effects, perchloroethylene (“perc”) used in dry cleaning, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), phthalates, the softening agent in plastic toys, and, most recently, bisphenol A (BPA), which was linked to fetal developmental problems, a discovery that led water bottles and baby products to be whisked from retailer shelves.

Limited supplies of natural resources and rapid population growth bring up the rear on the list of top scares. Save a watt! Save a tree! Save a drop! Consumers fret about dwindling resources of fossil fuels and increased dependence on foreign sources, depleting supplies of fresh water, and deforestation and, increasingly, its link to climate change. Gas prices in the U.S. spiked to over $4 a gallon during the summer of 2008 and many drivers fear such price increases may be just the beginning.

Every generation is green

One's behavior reflects one's values, and “sustainability” – caring for nature and the planet and the people who live here now and in the future – is now a core value of every living generation, starting with the Baby Boomers who led the green charge back in the mid to late 1960s. As important as Baby Boomers are to environmental activism as the nation's primary household shoppers and societal leaders, the potential impact to be made by the Internet-savvy Generations X, Y, and Z may be the most significant yet.

Baby Boomers: The first modern green generation

The heads of millions of U.S. households, the Baby Boomers, have long led the green movement through the values and attitudes they have instilled upon society and have imparted to their children and grandchildren. Born between 1946 and 1964, and ranging in age from 46 to 64 in 2010, the oldest Boomers, as college students and young adults, led the anti-Vietnam war, anti-big business, and pro-environment activist movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The brainchild of the then senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was first celebrated by the Baby Boomers in 1970 followed by the first Solar Day in 1971. Their demonstrations of concern gave rise to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the founding of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, the Clean Air and the Clean Water Acts that same year, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Then came the Middle East oil embargo, marking the beginning of the energy crisis of 1973–75, which sharpened the Baby Boomers' focus on the need for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and renewable forms of energy. In 1979 the release of the fictional The China Syndrome, a movie about safety cover-ups at a nuclear power plant, serendipitously opened two weeks prior to the partial core meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear-generating station near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Today, over half (54%) of Baby Boomers are considered to be “socially conscious shoppers.”2 That's 40 million green Boomers who choose organics, pluck resource-conserving products off the shelf, boycott the products of companies that pollute, and “pro-cott” the products of companies that give back to the community.

Generation X: Eyes on the world

Raised during the emergence of CNN which brought global issues into living rooms 24/7, Generation Xers (Gen Xers, also known as the Baby Bust generation) were born between 1964 and 1977 and are 33–46 years old as of 2010. Counting among them actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz as two of the most outspoken environmentalists of their generation, Gen Xers see environmental concerns through a lens that aligns social, educational, and political issues.

In 1984, the Gen Xers witnessed the fire in a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, which took over 3,000 lives and is thought to be still causing serious health problems today.3 In 1985, the Live Aid concert organized by musicians Bob Geldof and Midge Ure broadcast the need for famine relief in a desperate Ethiopia to an unprecedented 400 million worldwide – and opened the eyes of millions of Gen Xers residing in developed nations to the horrors taking place in developing countries. In 1986, Gen Xers also experienced the aftermath of the explosion in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. And in 1989, their same televisions showcased the devastation wrought by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and they were likely aware of events such as the Rio Summit of 1992.4

Generation Y: Digital media at their command

The likely new leaders of the modern-day green movement are the Generation Ys, born between the early 1980s and the early 1990s, and in 2010 ranging in age from 20 to 30 years old. This tech-savvy generation of Gen Ys (also known as Millennials) grew up with computers and the Internet. Distrustful of government and authority, they are quick to challenge marketing practices they deem to be unauthentic or untruthful. With the ability to express their opinions through blogging, texting, and social networks, they are capable of mustering immediate responses from millions around the globe. The offspring of the Baby Boomers whose social and environmental values they share, today's young adults lived through the Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and share awareness of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of plastic trash whose exact size is estimated to be bigger than the state of Texas. Like their counterparts in other generations, Gen Ys believe that global climate change is caused by human activities and they are almost twice as likely to buy more green products than those consumers who think climate change is occurring naturally.5

Green is an integral part of this generation's college experience. Many schools have signed the American College & University President's Climate Commitment,6 and legions of students are engaged in newly created environmental studies programs and in campus sustainability initiatives. Reusable water bottles and coffee mugs are ubiquitous on college campuses where many savvy companies are reaching out with sustainability messages to students who will soon become householders with significant incomes. Not content to sacrifice all for the almighty dollar, Gen Ys seek to balance “quality of life” and the “quest for wealth”;7 they seek to work for socially conscious employers.

Generation Z: Green is a natural part of their lives

Suggesting that green is here to stay are Generation Z; the first generation to be brought up in an environmentally conscious world, green is a part of their everyday life. Generation Zs, those currently under the age of 16, think nothing of living in solar-powered homes with a hybrid car in the driveway. Learning about environmental issues in school, they were likely exposed to The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute animated video that divulges the environmental impact of our daily consumption. For Gen Zs, sorting paper and plastic for recycling is as natural a daily activity as taking out the trash was for their parents. In school and at home the 3Rs of waste management, “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” are as common as the 3Rs of “reading, writing, and 'rith-metic.” Environmentally sensitive cleaning aids, locally grown produce, and recycled-paper goods top their parents' shopping lists. Clothes made from organically grown cotton and biobased fibers are part of the Gen Z uniform.

Green behavior: A daily phenomenon

With every generation now espousing sustainable values, environmentally considerate behavior is becoming the norm. As detailed in Figure 1.2, in 2009 nearly all (95%) of Americans are involved in various types of, albeit mostly easy, environmental activities they can do at home, from dropping empties in the recycling bin (recycling is now accessible to 87% of Americans),8 to replacing an incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), or light-emitting diode (LED). (A scheduled phase-out of incandescent bulbs will begin in the U.S. in 2012.) They turn off the lights, nudge the thermometer down a degree or two, and turn off the tap when brushing their teeth.

Driven by higher gas prices and corporate carpooling programs, as of 2009, 23% of U.S. adults now claim to share rides to work (thanks in part to corporate rideshare programs), nearly one in four consumers takes the bus or subway, and 31% now claim to walk or ride a bike instead of driving a car. Thanks to new awareness of the harm caused by plastic shopping bags that choke marine life or wind up as litter, and incentivized by monetary rewards at the checkout, peer pressure, and even a desire to make a fashion statement), as of 2009, nearly half (48%) of U.S. adults claim to regularly take reusable shopping bags to the grocery store, up 30% from 2006. Importantly, almost half (46%) of consumers maintain that they regularly boycott a brand or company that has environmental or social practices they do not like, up 17% since 2006. Big-name companies have become easy targets for activist groups. Exxon, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, and Kimberly-Clark are just a few of the big brands that have all been castigated by Greenpeace and other activists for deficient environmental or social practices, including excess packaging, high sugar content, unfair labor practices, and unsustainable forestry operations. Once negative perceptions are created, they are almost impossible to reverse. Who still fails to link Nike to unfair labor practices or Exxon to the Alaskan oil spill?

Figure 1.2 Top consumer environmental behaviors

% U.S. adult population indicating they regularly (daily/weekly/monthly) do the following:

image

* Change versus 2007. Recycling behavior measured in quantity not in frequency

Source: © Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), 2009 LOHAS Consumer Trends Database®
All Rights Reserved

Green voters and citizens

Concern over the state of the environment has swayed an unprecedented number of voters and has prompted citizens to volunteer in their communities. Broad swaths of citizens voted with the environment in mind when they supported Barack Obama in 2008 for taking even greener positions at the heart of his platform than had Al Gore. Support for such issues as mitigating global warming, curbing nuclear power, limiting offshore drilling, reducing ethanol production, and improving food and product safety have helped to propel green Congressional candidates in both the 2006 and 2008 elections.9 To boot, since 2006, over 80% of candidates endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters have won seats in the House or Senate, while 43 out of 67 candidates identified as anti-environmental were defeated.10

Earth-shattering events that have occurred since the start of the new millennium such as the terrorist attack on 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Indian Ocean tsunami have led to a skyrocketing number of applications to service organizations such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps – and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico now materializing will likely trigger a similar outpouring. Applications to Teach for America, an organization that serves neglected urban and rural areas, reached almost 19,000 in 2006, almost triple the number in 2000; in 2005 the Peace Corps added almost 8,000 volunteers (the largest group in 30 years), from 11,500 applications, up 20% over the year 2000; and AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) had a 50% increase in job applicants from 2004 to 2006.11

Shopping goes green

The rules are changing – and shopping lists along with them. An overwhelming majority (84%) of shoppers are now buying some green products from time to time, fueling mass markets for clothing made from organically grown fibers; organically produced foods; cold-water and ultra-concentrated detergents; natural cleaning, personal-care, and pet-care products; air- and water-filtration devices; low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints; portable bottled water containers; and biological pesticides and fertilizers. Thanks to a massive campaign from Wal-Mart during 2007 and intensive promotion by local utilities, purchases of CFLs top the list, followed by energy-efficient electronics and appliances, and natural/organic foods and cleaning products.

As of 2008, U.S. consumers invested an estimated $290 billion in a wide range of products and services representing such sectors as organic foods, natural personal care, ENERGY STAR-labeled appliances, hybrid cars, eco-tourism, green home furnishings and apparel, and renewable power, up from $219 billion in 2005.12 This market will only magnify over time, reflecting further advancements in design and technology and an ever-expanding range of high-quality green products with trusted brand names that are readily accessible at mass merchandisers and supermarkets.

Figure 1.3 Green purchasing behavior

% U.S. adult population indicating they have purchased products within the last 3 years,1 12 months,2 6 months,3 3 months,4 and those that own/lease a hybrid vehicle.5

image

Source: © Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), 2009 LOHAS Consumer Trends Database®
All Rights Reserved

Interest in green shopping holds steady, even in a recession; indeed, some recession-driven behaviors are making green downright fashionable: 67% of Americans agree that “even in tough economic times, it is important to purchase products with social and environmental benefits.”13 It's one thing to express interest verbally, and another to demonstrate interest with one's credit card. While all shopping, including green, has been hit hard by the recession, many classes of green products have fared remarkably well, thanks in part to the health and cost-saving benefits that they bestow. For instance, according to the Organic Trade Association, in 2008 organic food sales grew by 15.8% to reach $22.9 billion (accounting for 3.5% of all food products sales in the U.S., up from 2.8% in 2006). Sales of organic non-foods (organic fibers, personal-care products, and pet foods) grew by 39.4% to $1.6 billion.14 Burt's Bees, the line of natural cosmetics now owned by Clorox, continued to rack up annual sales of $200 million despite recessionary times.15 During its 2008 market debut, Clorox's Green Works line of natural cleaning products grabbed $123 million in sales, representing a leading share of this burgeoning market, while Seventh Generation's sales of household products grew by more than 20% in 2009 over the previous year to $150 million – and will only multiply with distribution in Wal-Mart, announced in the summer of 2010. Toyota's fuel-efficient Prius sold at a brisk 140,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2009, while Honda, who make a fuel cell vehicle and a natural gas Civic, reintroduced the Insight during fall 2009 with the goal of selling 500,000 units worldwide by early next decade.16 And in 2008, General Electric saw a 21% gain in revenue for its portfolio of environmentally sustainable consumer and industrial products, to $17 billion.

Sensing the opportunities are now ripe for picking (and likely fearing that greener competitors will steal their lunch), mainstream consumer-products giants are introducing new green brands. They are skewing advertising dollars, beefing up their websites and quickly getting up to speed on the latest social media networks to educate their own eco-aware consumers about the environmental benefits of their products. Some notable examples include: Kimberly-Clark's Scott Naturals (household paper products made from recycled material), Reynolds Wrap foil made from 100% recycled aluminum, and Church & Dwight's Arm & Hammer Essentials laundry products. Having spent the past 20 years addressing consumer concerns mostly via reduced packaging, the mighty Procter & Gamble (P&G) have themselves started to play by the new green rules. They have pledged to develop and market by 2012 at least $20 billion in cumulative sales of “sustainable innovation products,” which they define as “products with a significantly reduced environmental footprint versus previous alternative products.”17 Toward that end, in spring 2010, they inaugurated in the U.S. a multi-brand, multi-platform green campaign dubbed “Future Friendly.” Its goal is to place their greenest offerings in 50 million U.S. homes by year-end. The effort, started in the UK and Canada in 2007, will be bolstered by educational messages conducted with conservation groups and will feature P&G brands such as Dura-cell Rechargeable batteries, Tide HE (high-efficiency) laundry powder and Tide Coldwater, and PUR water filtration products.18 As the manufacturer of several billion-dollar brands, P&G's campaign builds on research showing that consumers are looking to understand how the brands they already know and trust can help them reduce their impact on the environment.

Another sign that the rules are rapidly changing: well-established mass marketers are also now acquiring leading sustainable brands with the adjudged potential for mass-market expansion. Just a few examples include The Body Shop (acquired by L'Oréal), Stonyfield Farm (now 40% owned by Danone), Tom's of Maine natural personal-care products (Colgate-Palmolive), Aveda cosmetics (Estée Lauder), Green & Black's organic chocolates (Cad-bury, now part of Kraft), Ben & Jerry's ice cream (Unilever), Cascadian Farm cereals (General Mills) and Burt's Bees personal-care line and Brita water filters (Clorox).

Expect more supermarket shelves to be lined with green choices in the future. In 2007, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office saw more than 300,000 applications for green-related brand names, logos, and tag lines. According to Datamonitor, as of April 2009, there were more than 450 sustainable product launches for the year, on track to represent triple the number of launches in 2008, which was in itself more than double those in 2007.19 Retailers are demanding greener alternatives from their suppliers and are giving greener products preferential shelf treatment. Leading the charge is the Sustainability Consortium Wal-Mart announced during the summer of 2009, and formed in conjunction with the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University. The Consortium is tasked to understand the best way to label products with life-cycle-based data to inform consumer purchase decisions – no doubt raising the green bar for the products they stock in the future.

Finally, over $4 billion in venture capital – more than ever before – is being invested in the cleantech industry to support the development of solar and wind, biofuel, geothermal, and other renewable alternatives to fossil fuels.20 More money is being invested in renewable energy than for conventional power, and cleantech is now the largest U.S. venture capital category, representing 27% of all venture funds.

Media turns green

Green stories now run in all sections of the New York Times and the Washington Post and other major dailies each day, and are featured on the covers of Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Wired, and the Sunday New York Times Magazine, among many others. Big-budget ad campaigns such as those for Apple's “Greenest Laptops,” Kashi cereals' “Seven Whole Grains on a Mission,” and Scott Naturals' “Green Done Right” run on primetime television. Discovery Channel, Planet Green, Sundance, and other eco-cable channels target the sustainability-aware viewer. At NBC, attention is paid to green via the special programming and “Green is Universal” campaign. With nearly five million subscribers, Good Housekeeping magazine has even introduced its own green seal accompaniment to its venerable Good Housekeeping seal. Such organizations are not only committed to addressing the green interests of their viewers and readers, they are greening themselves, some through the Open Media and Information Companies (Open MIC) initiative dedicated to making corporate management practices of the media industry more transparent and responsible.21

Many of the uncountable daily messages and images that fan the mainstream consumer's green lifestyle are supported behind the scenes by the Environmental Media Association (EMA), a Hollywood-based nonprofit group with the goal of securing primetime television and movie exposure for the environment. Helping EMA to paint green as cool, accessible, and something people want to emulate, are many Hollywood celebrities including Bette Midler, Brad Pitt, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and the father of Hollywood green, Ed Begley Jr., who among other celebrities walked the green carpet from his Toyota Prius into the Academy Awards in 2006.

Meanwhile the Internet is fast changing the media landscape, becoming the interactive medium for information-seeking aware consumers. Websites such as Discovery's treehugger.com and greenamerica.org empower visitors with the latest new green products and green living tips. Do an Internet search of the words, “green,” “environment,” or “eco” and you will find that entire communities of tweeters and bloggers are passing along trusted recommendations about which products to buy and which companies to trust. Is your sustainable brand part of this digital conversation? (See the Further Information section on page 199 for the names of more consumer-focused websites and media.) Finally, according to J.D. Power & Associates, conversations on sustainability-related blog posts and discussion boards more than doubled between January 2007 and December 2008. By the end of 2008, more than 70% of online contributors indicated that they were concerned about the environment and nearly half reported that they were actively doing something about it: e.g., driving less, recycling – and buying green products.22

Governments take action

Any politician who believes that green is inconsistent with a robust economy may soon be unelectable. In stark contrast to the Bush administration, which failed to lead on global climate change and many other key environmental matters, the Obama administration is fast changing the green rules by making green jobs, green energy, and green infrastructure a focal point of its national agenda. Among its first out-of-the-box initiatives: the 2009 Economic Stimulus Package, which included more than $30 billion in funding focused on energy efficiency grants for state and local budgets, weather-ization for low-income housing, retrofitting and modernization of federal buildings, investments in the “smart grid” for electrical power, and “clean coal” carbon capture and sequestration projects. The highly successful Cash for Clunkers program launched in July 2009 aimed to take inefficient, high-emission cars off the road and to stimulate the struggling automobile industry through the purchase of newer, more fuel-efficient cars. A special White House office for green jobs spearheads a national initiative that actively works to educate, train, and prepare a labor force prepared for tomorrow's green technologies.

Although mostly symbolic in nature, it is still telling that in one of her first acts as First Lady, Michelle Obama planted a “slow food” garden at the White House to help educate Americans about the benefits of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables.

In response to Americans' sustainability concerns, leaders at the municipal, state, and federal levels are creating more sustainable cities and towns characterized by more green spaces for city dwellers and reduced inner-city congestion (e.g., closing Broadway to traffic in New York City); bike paths and hiking trails built over old railroad tracks (including New York City's new High Line); mandated hybrid taxis and natural gas “clean air” buses; composting by residents (in San Francisco among others); and giving a boost to farmers' markets and community-supported agriculture.

With a history of internal mandates on green purchasing, governments at all levels are now taking steps to skew the mammoth consumer economy toward a greener shade by creating (or promoting more established) eco-labels that favor energy-efficient (ENERGY STAR), organic (USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] Organic), and water-efficient (WaterSense) goods; and as of this writing, the USDA is readying a voluntary consumer label to accompany its BioPreferred program for federal purchasing of biobased products. If California's Senator Dianne Feinstein has her way, the U.S. will one day soon have a multi-attribute eco-label resembling Europe's Eco Flower, Japan's EcoMark, and Brazil's “Qualidade Ambiental.”

The specter of rising sea levels is fast changing the rules in the many cities that have banned bottled water (whose transportation-related fuel use is now linked to global warming), from government

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Endorsements

Ottman's done it again. Jacquelyn doesn't just have her finger on the pulse of green marketing, she is the pulse. She cuts the ubiquity of green marketing with the unique perspective of experience in this marketplace. Read this book and you're up to speed.
-John Rooks, Author of More Than Promote - A Monkeywrencher's Guide to Authentic Marketing.

Jacquelyn Ottman has yet again written an indispensable book about green marketing. The New Rules of Green Marketing not only provides valuable insights to the current and shifting marketing landscape, but also provides a blueprint of how to use these new rules to achieve business success...a must read for every marketer.
-Jennifer Kaplan, author of Greening Your Small Business.

The New Rules of Green Marketing should serve as the definitive text for any organization that is looking to brand itself or its products as green or sustainable. Jacquie’s innovation driven insights will help organizations derive real and genuine strategic advantage from their green marketing initiatives.
-David Rinard, Director Global Environmental Performance, Steelcase Inc.

Jacquie Ottman takes her 25 years of experience in Green Marketing and gives insightful data and helpful checklists for practitioners in the field. The demand for green products is mainstream…and companies better be paying attention!
-Shelley Zimmer, Environmental Initiatives Manager, HP.

“Jacquie Ottman was one of the first to open up our consciousness for going green in her earlier book. Now she can demonstrate the strong payoffs to all of us—consumers, producers, retailers—by going green. Hurrah for this book showing how going green pays off in delivering a triple bottom line -- profits, people, and planet.”
-Philip Kotler, S. C. Johnson Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management/Northwestern University
 

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