Saturday, 10 November 2007
10 Things You Can Do
Firstly someone else's. You can read the full 10 rules manifesto here at Thomas Mathews website. The rules are very sensible and useful but what makes this so brilliant is the examples of their work. They founded their agency on dual principles of doing brilliant design and sustainable design. It's possible to do worthy stuff with considered materials and so on. But what we need to do is redesign life and for that you need ideas that captivate people too. Also just as significant is the ripple effect on other designers inspired by their work.
I did an equivalent, less brilliantly illustrated list for Marketing a while ago (I forgot to check if they actually used it but anyway the date is safely past) of 10 things a marketer can do. It is written for the marketing director rather than designers. one thing that might be brilliant is to collect some 10 things lists. What about ad agencies, PR, digital, events... I had an email yesterday from someone looking at sustainable theatre productions. Could be a good basis for a wiki. If anyone has more ten things lists or want to attempt one do comment or post a link to yours :J
10 Things You Can Do
The media are full of lists of 10 things you can do as an individual to tackle climate change (from cutting long haul flights and gas guzzling cars, to light bulbs and turning things off standby). What about the marketer? What can marketing do, within an organisation that wants to do its bit?
1. Fix the un-green details first
If you claim to be green, while aspects of what you sell are not green, you will likely be found out. For instance the (otherwise admirable) Anya Hindmarch “I’m not a plastic bag” was caught in a backlash because it wasn’t organic cotton, nor a fair trade product. Eurostar delayed their carbon reduction announcements, despite starting out 9 times better than flying, so they could maker sure there were no un-green details left.
2. Make policies, not propositions
The tradition within marketing is to use fancy worded claims – like ‘natural’ – with very little external reference. Green demands objective factual standards, not empty claims. M&S decided that free range was an important standard animal welfare, so now they commit that all egg, even the eggs used in their pasta, come from free range hens.
3. Hunt for secondary benefits
Green is not a benefit (its for everyone, not just for the buyer). But green products often do have secondary benefits like health, economy, even luxury. Green & Black chocolate (organic, fair trade) is sold on the fact it just tastes amazing. When I say ‘sold’ their main marketing tactic has simply been giving people samples to try.
4. Educate the market
When UK frozen food retailer Iceland introduced all organic food in 2001, their (very mainstream consumer base) simply perceived it as more expensive and sales went down. When arks & Spencer introduced innovations such as organic cotton, they took the trouble to educate their customers (the “look behind the label”) campaign.
5. Find role models
Ever since Bridget Bardot led the campaign against seal culls, it has been apparent how important role models are in green campaigning. The same is true in consumer markets, with the Toyota Prius’ brand being built upon the profile and persona of drivers such as Leonardo Di Caprio.
6. Be nice
Green is a hard factual matter of industrial reform, but the stronger brands with green credentials are those which build a more rounded impression based upon being nice (human, warm, generous, accessible…); Ben & Jerry’s, innocent, Howies, method….
7. Collaborate with consumers
The biggest impact you can make in consumer markets is often about changing the way people consume. Ariel asking people to ‘turn to 30’ is a good example; and if you wash colder, then you need a better detergent, of course. This is a challenge calling for new creative ideas; for instance why hasn’t a car company picked up the campaign to ‘stop at 70’ (driving within the speed limits saves a LOT of carbon, as well as saving lives and money)? It’s the ‘Change the World for a Fiver’ territory.
8. Challenge your business model
Are there greener ways to meet the same needs at a profit? Electrolux have trialled a scheme where people rent the washing machine and pay per use. This way Electrolux can maintain, re-use parts and optimise the sustainability. The key is often turning a new product sale into a service. Amazon new&used is an idea all retailers of durables could adopt.
9. Build to last
The disposable era is over. It’s increasingly unacceptable to waste material resources on products with a short intended life cycle. Of course the work of marketing is then to make long lasting products the norm; for instance introducing a distinctive and desirable ‘green phone’ to go with a four year contract. With building to last, would come much greater openness in product designs, for repair, re-use and upgrade.
We don’t have more than a fraction of the ideas which we need to make modern economies sustainable. Innovation is key to development; in energy type, energy efficiency, product sourcing and design. Marketing’s biggest contribution to the culture of the last 20 years has been to help people get over their technophobia and fall in love with IT devices. Now marketing needs to do the same for green products and services.
It’s not about making normal stuff seem green. It’s about making greener stuff seem normal.