Saturday, 24 November 2007

Procter, Gamble & Green

Innovation is the way forward. we need greener products and services, greener ways of life. the big question is whether we can get there by continuous corporate improvement, or by switching to radical alternatives. With its recent public commitments to green innovation P&G is probably now the leading test case. On the one hand, yes they do still make disposable nappies and four blade razors. On the other hand here is what they are now committed to in their latest CSR report:

Strategy 1 Improve through Products
Delight the consumer with sustainable innovations that improve
the environmental profile of our products.
• Develop and market at least $20 billion in cumulative sales of
“sustainable innovation products,” which are products with a
significantly reduced (>10%) environmental footprint versus
previous or alternative products.

Strategy 2 Improve through Production
Improve the environmental profile of P&G’s own operations.
• Deliver an additional 10% reduction (per unit production) in
CO2 emissions, energy consumption, water consumption and
disposed waste from P&G plants, leading to a total reduction
over the decade of at least 40%.

Strategy 3 Improve through Responsibility
Improve lives through P&G’s social responsibility programs.
• Enable 250 million children to Live, Learn and Thrive.
• Prevent 80 million days of disease and save 10,000 lives by
delivering 2 billion liters of clean water in our Children’s Safe
Drinking Water program.

Strategy 4 Improve through Employees
Engage and equip all P&Gers to build sustainability thinking and
practices into their everyday work.

Strategy 5 Improve through Stakeholders
Shape the future by working transparently with our stakeholders
to enable continued freedom to innovate in a responsible way.

When this was reported in the FT, it was commented that "It is believed to be the first time a consumer products company has set itself a financial target for developing and selling new “greener” items, rather than for waste or energy reduction." It seems a slightly moot point given what the retailers have been committing to (M&S, Walmart), but good for P&G anyway.

What does everyone think? Good initiative? Better than waiting for pure green alternatives? (The washing cold thing is according to Julia Hales new green Consumer Guide a reason to go with a product like Ariel rather than Ecover, although that's been a hotly disputed point).

If you were P&G what would you do with all this from a marketing point of view?

Can they achieve anything by focusing only on the heroes or do they also need to tackle the villains of their range; their equivalent of incandescent bulbs and patio heaters.

One spoecific which would be very interesting to debate is their future friendly logo.

It has been received slightly sceptically by the ethical living press, for instance this in the Guardian:

"The brands in question - Ariel, Fairy Liquid, Lenor and Flash - are all from the Procter & Gamble stable. From next week they will be displaying the green-coloured Future Friendly logo which is intended to inform shoppers that by buying these products they will save energy, water or reduce waste. What consumers won't know is that the logo - which is approved by the Energy Saving Trust, Waste Watch, Waterwise and pop star-backed Global Cool - is only available on Proctor and Gamble products. The reason these charities are supporting this blatant marketing campaign is because of supposedly environmentally-friendly measures adopted by these brands. Ariel, for example, has been running a 'turn to 30C' campaign; Flash now only needs cold water to clean our surfaces; Lenor's smaller bottles, as its annoying TV ad keeps telling us, has led to 14,000 less lorry trips (not buying it could lead to a much bigger reduction I shouted at the TV); and Fairy, just by being longer-lasting than other washing up liquids, we are told, saves millions of bottles. But is this any justification for carrying a logo that consumers will naturally assume means these products have been independently verified as more eco-friendly than their rivals, and even those niche brands, such as Ecover, that have prided and priced themselves on their green credentials? "

Thanks to Jaren Fraser for pointing ttheir CSR promise out out.

No comments: