This is probably something that most people already know intuitively... `EcoMagination` from one of the world`s biggest arms dealers? `Beyond Petroleum` from one of the leading companies agitating to drill ANWR? ...it`s as if they think we are nothing more than meat with eyes, as Lewis Black says.
Turns out, "Only 19% of people identify both Wal-mart and GE a ssocially responsible companies. Only 6.5% of people identify Bank of America as a socially responsible brand, while these companies have lead the way with green and CSR (corporate social responsibility) marketing communications in 2007." Meanwhile, the top things consumers look for in sustainable products are social, and related only indirectly to global warming, ozone holes and the like: "...connecting with friends, family and community (90%), fair trade (73%), employee treatment (85%)."
An interesting case study in all this is Electrolux, which evidently never set out to brand itself as a "green" company. Instead it played up its products` efficiency as a means of reducing energy bills and getting work done faster. But efficiency is also green to the core, and now Electrolux is one of those brands that is permanently lodged in peoples` minds as being "green." But wait, there`s more... as an added bonus, Electrolux does not have to worry about greenwashing the way Wal-Mart and GE do, because its green credentials were inadvertently built into its original marketing strategy.
For me the big takeaway in my readings this weekend is that a company doesn`t necessarily have to choose between branding itself as green, or not; the key to being embraced by green consumers is having an authentic vision of the company`s connectedness to the rest of the world, and conducting itself in accord with that vision. I think Kyocera qualifies: "Respect the divine and love people." And Google: "Don`t be evil."
Most of my green marketing reading came from these sites:
- natural marketing institute
- lohas journal
- conscientious innovation — don`t miss this blog post: avoiding knee-jerk green
Side note: Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera, has a blog-like sub-site that is worth reading, though it is still pretty empty.