Unilever: Partnership to help African Hand Washing Initiative

30 10 2012

Unilever and the Earth Institute have announced a new initiative to bring hand washing with soap – a lifesaving habit – to the Millennium Villages, a project that works with nearly 500,000 people in rural villages, across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 

”The big issues the world is facing require new approaches, new business models and new partnerships. Responsible businesses must take a more active leadership role.” said Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, “The memo of understanding with the Earth Institute partnering Lifebuoy with the Millennium Villages Project is one such example where working together will enhance our expertise of addressing hygiene in deep rural Africa and enable us to develop more effective solutions to reduce child mortality.”

The partnership supports Unilever’s goal to deliver on one of its commitment under its Sustainable Living Plan – to help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. Over the past two years, Unilever has successfully changed the hand washing behaviour of 50 million people in Africa and South-Asia, through its leading soap brand Lifebuoy and partnerships with Population Services International (PSI) and UNICEF established through the Unilever Foundation.

“It is unacceptable that two million children die every year from infectious diseases when we have easy and cheap lifesaving solutions, such as hand washing with soap, readily available. Innovative partnerships between governments, civil society and business have a critical role to play in promoting better hygiene practices and in tackling the world’s deadliest diseases.” said Polman.

Millions around the world are asked to pledge on www.facebook.com/lifebuoy. With every pledge, Lifebuoy and its partners will help more children receive hygiene education through their dedicated handwashing behavior change programs.

In a statement, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University said: “Diarrhoea and pneumonia are the two leading causes of under-5 deaths, accounting for around 30% of children’s deaths globally – more than two million lives lost each year. More than 80% of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Addressing these challenges through improved hygiene is a vital and effective step towards saving lives and achieving the global Millennium Development Goal to reduce the child mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015.”

Consistent evidence shows that hand washing with soap at critical times – before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet – can reduce diarrhoeal risk by 45%  and acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia, by 23%.  Studies also reveal that primary school absenteeism due to diarrhoea and respiratory infections dropped between 20% and 50% as a result of better hand washing practices .

“We are looking forward to working with Unilever to ensure that straightforward solutions like hand washing reach the people that need them the most,” said Sachs who leads the Millennium Villages Project.  “The poor need solutions that are affordable, products that are highly effective, and information that is practical and accessible.  The benefits can be enormous.”

The partnership will be focusing on villages in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, and aims to: decrease incidence in diarrhoeal diseases, promote gender equality, increase school attendance, enhance productivity and well-being for all community members. The partnership will also focus on governments. Governments should integrate hand washing with soap into national health and education policy frameworks. Governments and aid donors should ensure adequate finance for hygiene facilities and water availabilities. Business must act too, ensuring their products are even more affordable, and varied so that handwashing with soap is done everywhere and by all. Public-private partnerships have role to play and can help governments harness the power of business for the benefit of their population’s health.

Looking to the UN’s post-2015 agenda, Polman said, “It will be important to ensure that hygiene takes its place alongside targets on water and sanitation. This partnership with Millennium Villages Project will provide further evidence to demonstrate to policymakers how hygiene public policy can be improved, and help bring to an end the scandal of children dying from preventable diseases.





Puma Again: Launching biodegradable shoes and apparel.

11 10 2012

The amazing German footwear and apparel manufacturer Puma is at it again.  This week they announced the launch of a new line of biodegradable shoes, shirts, backpacks and recyclable track jackets.  The products will be available for sale in 2013.  This adds to Puma’s track record of sustainability leadership that has led to it being named “the world’s most sustainable corporation” by EIRIS and has drawn praise as a corporate leader in environmental responsibility by the United Nations.

In an interview with Reuters, chief executive Franz Koch said, “We have decided that sustainability is a mega-trend.  We want to contribute to a better world. At the same time, we also want to carve out our competitive advantage.”

The new collection, going on sale in 2013, includes biodegradable sneakers and shirts and recyclable plastic track jackets and backpacks. At the end of their useful life, the products can be returned to stores for processing.

The sole of the new sneaker is made of biodegradable plastic and the upper of organic cotton and linen. After being shredded, it could become compost in six to nine months.  Puma has demonstrated that 100,000 pairs of biodegradable sneakers would fill 12 trucks of waste during production and disposal against 31 trucks-worth for the same number of normal Puma suede shoes.

A new biodegradable T-shirt would have environmental costs of 2.36 euros in terms of greenhouse gases, water, waste, air pollution, and land use associated with its production, compared to 3.42 euros for a conventional T-shirt.

The company also said it was starting to rate the environmental impact of individual products, narrowing the focus from a study last year that estimated the entire company caused 145 million euros in damage to nature in 2010.

In another interview with Reuters, Jochen Zeitz, chairman of Puma said, “In the long run I think all of this should be standardised, just like we are used to seeing calories on our food products.” , told Reuters. Zeitz conceded that “a lot of people call it a risk” to mention pollution when trying to sell a product. “I think it’s a risk not to talk about it,” he said. “It’s our opportunity as businesses to be transparent.”

In 2010, Puma and Yves Behar of Fuse Project, a global leader in design, announced the launch of its Clever Little Bag, reinventing the typical cardboard shoe box with a much more environmentally responsible package design.  You can see the design and appreciate its reduction in environmental impacts here.

Read the Reuters article here.





GfK Green Gauge®: Green is going mainstream, but don’t expect a premium.

24 09 2012

In their new Green Gauge research released today, GfK reports significant progress in the developing green culture in the United States, but also highlight findings that many consumers are increasingly resistant to pay more for “green products”.

In a statement, Timothy Kenyon–Director for the Green Gauge survey–said, “Green awareness is indeed pervasive – but consumers can perceive ‘green’ claims as a negative in some contexts.  For example, while terms like organic and recyclable have strong positive resonance, they are often associated with higher prices. Understanding consumers’ triggers and the limits of their commitment to green action is essential for marketers and researchers alike.”

The study shows that 73% of US consumers have purchased a product made from organic materials in the past 12 months. Categories that have seen notable increases since 2007 in organic buying include food, household cleaning, apparel, and pet food and supplies.

In addition, 93% of Americans say they have done something to conserve energy in their households in the past year, and 77% have done something to save household water during the same timeframe.

The study also reports that digital media are helping to amplify this green awareness:

29% of smartphone users have turned to an app in the past year to help reduce their environmental impact – a figure that jumps to 44% for Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) and 38% for Generation Y (ages 23 to 32).  Most-cited types of apps used include public transportation timetables and home energy monitors.

In addition, 18% of consumers say that social networking sites are a “major source” of green information for them (up four points from 2011), with another 33% citing it as a “minor source.”

GfK points out that green awareness and engagement do not necessarily translate to green purchase. Compared to 2008, the proportion of US consumers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives has gone down in a variety of key areas — from cars that are less polluting to the air (down from 62% to 49%) to energy efficient lightbulbs (down from 70% to 60%).  (examples are cited below in this infographic from the Advertising Age article linked below).

According to GFK, The Green Gauge® Report is the only nationwide, long-term syndicated study of consumer attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. Green Gauge gives marketers an exclusive look at how America’s concern for environmental issues can affect brands and organizations.

Read a related article to the research in Advertising Age here.





Vestas Survey: 85% of consumers want more renewable energy.

18 09 2012

Vestas has released this year’s Global Consumer Wind Study, surveying 24,000 consumers worldwide about their attitude toward renewable energy.  The study shows that 79% per cent of consumers prefer renewable energy, that 62% are more willing to buy products produced with renewable energy, and not least that consumers indicate a willingness to pay a premium price for such products.

Other key findings in the research include:

  • 74% would get a more positive perception of a brand if wind energy were the primary energy source used in its production.
  • 49% of respondents express willingness to pay more for products made with renewable energy.
  • 62% of respondents say they would be more willing to buy products from brands that use wind energy production.
  • 52% of consumers believe that the transparency of the energy mix used in product production is too low.
  • 45% of consumers surveyed perceive climate change as one of the top 3 challenges facing the world today.

Importantly for brand marketers, the research also studied the impact of renewable energy use on brand perceptions.  28% of people surveyed indicated they would get a “much more positive perception” of the brand if the brand used wind energy as its primary source.

According to the research report, “This year’s Global Consumer Wind Study indicates that brands need their core business to be green in order to reap the full benefits of consumers’ preferences. The research suggests that consumers have raised the threshold for being “green,” and that consumers are more likely to choose brands that integrate sustainability into their core business operations by sourcing renewable energy, and to recommend those brands to other potential purchasers.”

You can read the full summary of the Global Consumer Wind Study here.





Method: Progress On Ocean Plastic

24 08 2012

It has been almost a year since innovative and inventive household cleaning products manufacturer Method announced its campaign to utilize reclaimed ocean plastic for its packaging.  In a recent article on Greenbiz,com, Drummond Lawson, the director of sustainability at Method, provides a progress report on the sustainability initiative.

.Commercializing the rising tide of ocean plastic

Lawson writes:  “Method has participated in, alongside partners Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Kahuku Hawai’i Foundation, several beach cleanup days that resulted in collecting several thousand pounds of beach debris. The primary challenge encountered in these cleanups, aside from hauling hundreds of pounds of plastic from remote beach locations, has been retrieving the plastics before they degrade to tiny particles that are effectively impossible to collect in large quantities.

The range and quantity of plastic in the oceans is astounding. The debris collected from these beaches has varied from fishing baskets made of polypropylene to Russian shampoo bottles and Japanese bleach bottles made from HDPE, to car bumpers, ropes, water bottles, and buoys.”

Method product engineers are exploring ways to enhance the durability of their ocean plastic packaging.

“Method’s team of People Against Dirty love our work on the Ocean Plastic project because it brings together three things that characterize our company and how we work,” says Lawson.  “First, it addresses a real and material environmental problem — in this case, the accumulation of persistent plastics in the environment. Second, it relies on solid science and creativity to generate a solution. And third, it integrates sustainability into an innovative, effective, and engaging product design.”

Kudos to Method for this creative commitment to sustainability that enriches both the planet and people by repurposing plastic which represents so much damage to the environment and danger for ocean habitat.

Read the full article here.





Adidas DryDye: T-shirts made with less water.

9 08 2012

Adidas is rolling out an initial production run of 50,000 DryDye t-shirts – demonstrating their leadership in the production of apparel with less use of water.

The sportswear company has released a line of T-shirts made of fabric dyed with compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) rather than water.

Adidas says the DryDye technology – developed over the last five years with Thailand’s Yeh Group – uses zero water for dyeing, compared to 25 liters for a typical shirt. In addition, the process reduces chemical use by 50 percent, the company said.  In a commercial, Adidas claims the apparel industry uses the equivalent of the amount of water in the Mediterranean Sea each year.

For the summer season, Adidas has produced 50,000 DryDye tees with designs promoting the innovation. Using a traditional dyeing process would have required roughly 1,200,000 liters of water.

Adidas said it will begin using the DryDye process for more apparel pieces over the next few seasons.

Besides saving water, DryDye also uses 50 percent less energy and 50 percent fewer chemicals, according to DyeCoo, the Netherlands-based company that built the first commercial waterless textile-dyeing machine.  Adidas expects to save 1.2 million liters of water by using DryDye technology over conventional methods.

Together with Thailand’s Yeh Group, one of the first textile mills to implement the technology, Adidas will be rolling out 50,000 DryDye T-shirts over the summer. Because a single tee can require up to 25 liters of water during the dyeing stage, Adidas expects to save an estimated 1.2 million liters of agua over the usual route.

This is only the beginning, according to Adidas. The manufacturer expects to use the DryDye process with more apparel pieces over the next few seasons.





Ekocycle: will.i.am and Coke inspire sustainable behaviors

1 08 2012

Coca-Cola is collaborating with musician and producer will.i.am along with other iconic brands to inspire a global movement with the launch of Ekocycle, a brand initiative dedicated to help encourage recycling behavior and sustainability among consumers through aspirational, yet attainable lifestyle products made in part from recycled material.

The Ekocycle brand initiative was developed to educate consumers about everyday recycling choices and empower their purchasing decisions as part of a social change movement, The Coca-Cola Co. says. The initiative supports recycling by helping consumers recognize that items they consider waste today can be part of a lifestyle product that they can use tomorrow. The Ekocycle brand initiative will identify products, such as assorted plastic bottles and aluminum cans, that can be repurposed into recycled content for fashionable and valuable lifestyle products. It also will encourage demand and use of recycled materials, and reinforce the importance of recycling finished products, the company says.

“With the Ekocycle brand, I’m on a mission to educate and inspire consumers around the globe to seek out more sustainable lifestyle choices that will ultimately play a part in the movement toward a world with zero waste,” will.i.am said in a statement. “By making products that contain recycled materials more attractive to both businesses and consumers, everyone can do their part to keep the cycle going to turn discarded waste into cool, new items. The Coca-Cola Co. shares this vision and together working with local communities worldwide we will showcase the greater value of recycling, as well as selecting products that feature recycled materials.”

Beats by Dr. Dre and New Era are the first brand partners to join the Ekocycle brand initiative. As a part of the partnership, these collaborative efforts will produce on-trend products made partially from recycled materials. Consumers can purchase Beats by Dr. Dre headphones this fall. New Era hats and other yet-to-be-announced Ekocycle products will be available in early 2013.

“The Ekocycle brand initiative is a platform that aligns with our vision of zero waste and our focus on sustainability,” said Bea Perez, vice president and chief sustainability officer for The Coca-Cola Co., in a statement. “Together with will.i.am, we will promote recycling in a unique way with other well-known brands to create lifestyle products that consumers worldwide desire. Today’s generation of young consumers represents an active force and the Ekocycle brand aims to be a driver in rallying their support and efforts around a global sustainability movement.”

The Coca-Cola Co. will donate its portion of licensing profits from the Ekocycle brand initiative to support additional recycling and community improvement organizations. It also will make a minimum $1 million financial commitment in the next five years. This donation is in addition to, and separate from, the charitable commitments of 1 percent of operating profits made through The Coca-Cola Foundation, the company says.

Earth911, host of the one of the largest recycling directories in the United States with more than 1.5 million ways to recycle, will provide an interactive and searchable recycling directory for consumers accessible at ekocycle.com.

“Recycling is one of the easiest sustainable actions consumers can take, but without real-time access to local options, people are often left confused and frustrated,” said Raquel Fagan, vice president of media for Earth911, in a statement. “The Ekocycle brand initiative takes a forward-thinking approach and demonstrates how companies can play a role in eliminating this confusion and empowering consumers.”

On Aug. 1, the Ekocycle brand will premiere its first 60-second TV commercial that will air in the U.S. market during the telecast of the Summer Olympic Games. A full-scale marketing, advertising and online campaign will follow.

To learn more about the Ekocycle brand initiative, visit ekocycle.com.

Original article in Beverage Industry





Interbrand: Toyota is world’s best green brand.

8 07 2012

Interbrand has crowned Toyota as the number one green brand in the world.

In a statement, Interbrand reports:  “Automotive and technology brands dominate the ranking. Toyota maintains the number one spot, continuing to make environmental sustainability a core management priority. The original Prius model — the primary launchpad for Toyota’s green image — has recently been expanded to encompass an entire family of sustainable automobiles, including the company’s first plug-in model. This year, Toyota also achieved near zero-landfill status at all of its North American manufacturing plants, and continues its commitment to build LEED certified buildings and dealerships.”

Here are the rest of the top green brands as ranked by Interbrand.

Learn more about the Best Green Brands from Interbrand.





Puma: Bring It Back. Old Shoes RIP.

7 06 2012

Kudos once again to the folks at Puma – who IRIS named the most sustainable corporation in the world.

Puma has just launched Bring It Back – a new athletic shoe and sporting apparel recycling program.

In a statement, Franz Koch, CEO of Puma said, “On our mission to become the most desirable and sustainable sport lifestyle company in the world, we are constantly working on solutions that aim at reducing the environmental impact that PUMA as a company leaves behind on our planet. With our Bring Me Back Program, we are pleased to target, for the first time ever, the massive amounts of waste sport lifestyle products leave behind at their end-of-life phase when consumers dispose of them and they end up on landfills or in waste incineration plants.”

In a new twist, PUMA is encouraging people who return their non-longer desirable shoes and apparel to write and post their product’s obituary together with a picture of the shoes on its website. The company hopes its obituary option will finally get people excited about recycling their shoes.  May these shoes RIP.

Now that is smart sustainable branding.




Edelman Good Purpose Study: 87% of people believe business should place equal weight on business and society.

29 05 2012

In a massive global study surveying more than 8,000 adults in 16 countries, Edelman’s 2012 Good Purpose Study tracks people’s increasing belief that business bears a weight to contribute to society.

  • 76% of people believe it is ok for brands to support causes and make money at the same time (up 33% from 2008).
  • Yet only 28% of people believe business is performing well in addressing societal issues.
  • 53% of people believe Social Purpose is the most important decision criteria in buying a brand when price and quality are the same (up 26% from 2008).
  • 51% believe business should donate a portion of profits or products/services to address societal issues.
  • 80% of people believe it is critical for businesses to make the public aware of the efforts they are making to address societal issues.
  • 52% of people believe its equally important to address issues “that impact me personally and society overall”.
  • 89% of people worldwide report that they take part in activities to address social issues.

You can access a slide show summary of the survey here.





EIRIS: Puma Is The World’s Most Sustainable Corporation.

3 05 2012

In researching more than 2,000 large global corporations, EIRIS has ranked the top ten global companies when it comes to sustainable practices.  No U.S. based companies were ranked in the top ten.

Puma was ranked first based on its exceptional environmental management systems and reporting practices.  It also has comprehensive policies for equal opportunity employment, workplace health and safety, and workforce training and development.

The rest of the most highly ranked sustainable companies included:

  1. Puma (Germany)
  2. First Group (UK)
  3. National Australia Bank
  4. GlaxoSmithKline (UK)
  5. Roche (Switzerland)
  6. Novartis (Switzerland)
  7. Phillips Electronics (Netherlands)
  8. Deutsche Boerse (Germany)
  9. NovoNordisk (Denmark)
  10. The GoAhead Group (UK)

The EIRIS research also ranked corporate sustainability performance by geographic region, with companies from the United Kingdom getting the greatest number of A grades, while only 2% of U.S. companies received an A.  The vast majority (91%) of U.S. based companies received a C or lower grade.

You can read the EIRIS report here.





Gibbs & Soell: Only 21% of Americans Believe Business Is Committed To Going Green.

2 05 2012

In their 2012 Gibbs & Soell Sense & Sustainability study, the research demonstrates that public doubt that corporations are making a sincere commitment to going green continues to run high.

Despite their skepticism, the majority (71 percent) of consumers wants to know more about what companies are doing to become sustainable and green, and 75% feel the media are more likely to report on green business when the news is bad rather than good.

Read the summary report and news release announcing the results of 2012 Gibbs & Soell Sense & Sustainability Study at these links.

Key Findings:

  •  The general public and business leaders remain skeptical of corporate America’s commitment to sustainability. Only 21 percent of U.S. adults and 25 percent of executives believe that a majority of businesses (“most,” “almost all,” or “all”) are committed to “going green” – defined as “improving the health of the environment by implementing more sustainable business practices and/or offering environmentally-friendly products or services.”
  • While one-third of executives report having no green steward, up from years past, there is a trend toward dedicated teams for those who do. This year’s results show that 34 percent of executives indicate there is no one at their company who is responsible for sustainability or “going green” initiatives, up from 25 percent in 2011. More than one out of five (21 percent) corporate leaders report there is a team of individuals whose jobs are specifically and solely dedicated to sustainability, up from 17 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2010.
  • Most consumers and business executives also believe corporate sustainability activities are more likely to be covered by the media when the news is bad than good. The number is comparatively higher among consumers who are confident in corporate America’s commitment to “going green.” Three-quarters (75 percent) of U.S. adults and 69 percent of executives feel the media are more likely to report on “bad news” than “good news” when covering how companies are addressing efforts to “go green.” Specifically among the 21 percent of consumers who believe “most,” “almost all,” or “all” companies are committed to “going green,” 83 percent feel there is a bias for bad news in the media.

 Said Ron Loch, senior vice president and managing director, sustainability consulting, Gibbs & Soell. “The results reveal growing efforts by business communicators in relating their corporate responsibility stories, but also underscore a deficit in general understanding and trust.  It’s clear much more needs to be achieved in terms of relevant engagement with consumers and the media around corporate sustainability.”





Gfk MRI: Falling Behind On Buying Green.

16 04 2012

In new research issued by Gfk MRI, people’s interest in making small sacrifices for environmentally responsible products continues to slip away.  No doubt the punishing impact of the recession and stagnant employment market have forced many consumers to make a Sophie’s Choice over green products.  But the research further underscores the lack of inspiration that marketers have been able to generate for sustainable brands.

Data from the last five years reports that consumers are now less likely to give up convenience or pay more for green products.

  • The percentage of adults who report “I am willing to pay more for a product that is environmentally safe” declined 13%, from 60% to 52%, in the last five years.
  • The percentage of U.S. adults who agreed with the statement “I am willing to give up convenience in return for a product that is environmentally safe” declined 16% in the past five years, from 56% in 2007 to 47% in 2011.

Only Millennials (people aged 18-24) are the only adult age group whose willingness to give up convenience or pay more for green products has held steady over the past five years. In addition, 53% of consumers aged 18-24 recycle products and 4% participated in environmental groups/causes in the past 12 months.  At least there is some hope from this audience of young adults to accept responsibility for sustainable behavior moving forward.

While 65% of American adults agree with the statement “preserving the environment is very important,” according to the Survey of the American Consumer, evidently the job of preserving is for someone else.  Only 22% of consumers who remodeled their homes in the last 12 months said they used environmentally friendly/”green” products for their renovation.

The top three environmentally friendly products purchased by U.S. adults are light bulbs (18%), paper towels (12%) and laundry detergent (11%).  Big deal.

As more and more leading global companies invest in sustainable strategies and are adopting practices with long-term environmental health in mind, it is incumbent on marketers in those organizations to create consumer awareness, appreciation and adoption of these strategies.  This data suggests we are falling behind instead of moving forward.

Original post on Sustainable Brands





Nielsen: The Global, Socially Conscious Consumer

28 03 2012

In a new global research report, Nielsen has identified a segment of the population they call the Global Socially Conscious Consumer.  

  • Two thirds (66%) of consumers around the world say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. 
  • They prefer to work for these companies (62%), and invest in these companies (59%). 
  • Still nearly half (46%) say they are willing to pay extra for products and services from these companies. 

In the study, respondents were asked if they prefer to buy products and services from companies that implement programs that give back to society. Anticipating a positive response bias, respondents were also asked whether they would be willing to pay extra for those services. For the purposes of this study, Nielsen defines the “socially conscious consumer” as those who say they would be willing to pay the extra.

According to Nielsen, “Cause marketing won’t work with all customer segments—some simply don’t care—but the research suggests that there is a segment of socially conscious consumers that cause marketers should pay attention to.”

New findings from a Nielsen survey of more than 28,000 online respondents from 56 countries around the world provide fresh insights to help businesses better understand the right audience for cause marketers, which programs resonate most strongly with this audience, and what marketing methods may be most effective in reaching these consumers.

Thanks to a tweet from our friend John Gerzema for pointing us to this research which he believes is in line with the findings in his book Spend Shift.

 

 





Ogilvy Earth. Mainstream Green. Bridging the Green Gap.

27 03 2012

A major new research report was issued this week from marketing agency Ogilvy Earth studying the barriers to mainstream consumers acceptance of sustainability behaviors and enlightened brands.

The focus of the study was both in the United States and in China, two of the most populated and carbon intensive countries in the world.  In the chart below, the report shows that the majority of people surveyed recognize the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle, a gap exists between knowledge of its importance and actual behavior.  The gap is 14% in China, and more than double that – 30% – in the United States.

In analysis of the research, Ogilvy Earth observed what this blogger has believed for 3+ years:

“The marketing communications industry knows how to do this. We popularize things; that’s what we do best.  But we need to embrace the simple fact that if we want green behaviors to be widespread, then we need to treat them as mass ideas with mass communications, not elite ideas with niche communications.”

In their analysis, the researchers found that “82% of Americans have good green intentions, but of those 82%, only 16% are dedicated to fulfilling those intentions, putting 66% firmly in this middle ground.”  As indicated in the chart about.

In their conclusions, the report’s authors identify 12 key ways they believe the Green Gap can be bridged.  They conclude:

1. Make it normal.

2. Make it personal.

3. Create better defaults.

4. Eliminate the sustainability tax.

5. Bribe shamelessly.

6. Punish wisely.

7. Don’t stop innovating.  Make better stuff.

8. Lose the crunch.

9.  Turn eco-friendly into male ego-friendly.

10. Make it tangible.

11. Make it easy to navigate.

12. Tap into hedonism over altruism.

For more detail and explanation on these intriguing and provocative gap bridging strategies, read the entire research report here.

Mainstream Green Report from Ogilvy Earth





Conference Board: What Board Members Should Know About Communicating CSR.

23 03 2012

In a significant white paper directed to corporate board members, The Conference Board has challenged directors to be aware of the benefits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and the challenges of communicating those actions to key stakeholders in the enterprise.

While the business benefits of CSR activities are now well-documented, the report says, “…communicating these activities are far from simple. If stakeholders perceive a lack of clarity regarding the company’s commitment to CSR, doubt the effectiveness of its CSR initiative, or miss the connection of a certain sociality activity to the core business, a backlash can occur.  CSR communication must overcome stakeholder skepticism to generate favorable CSR attributions.”

The report identified 6 key recommendations for board members to provide guidance for communicating CSR strategies:

1.  Seek CSR activities that fit into the business strategy.

2.  Emphasize CSR commitment and impact to foster consumer advocacy.

3. Seek credibility through the support of independent, external communication sources.

4.  Encourage employee and consumer word-of-mouth.

5.  Select social initiatives with high issue support.

6. Be mindful of stakeholder perception of business industry.

Here is a chart demonstrating how companies are

currently communicating CSR activities.

We are still surprised how passive and latent the CSR communications activities are.  The Conference Board recommends in their research that more consumer engagement is a critical next step to elevate CSR attribution and success.

The report says “a company’s CSR positioning can significantly amplify the effectiveness of CSR communication.  Stakeholders are likely to pay more attention to a comprehensive and coherent CSR message and believe in the authenticity of the social commitment.”

In other words, CSR should become a cornerstone asset in the brand’s equity and marketing focus.

The Conference Board Report Is Here.





UN Global Compact: 29 Laggard Companies Pressured On Sustainability Reporting.

21 03 2012

 

In a press release issued last week, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment indicated a coalition of global investors is pressuring 29 laggard companies who have not published sustainability reports to keep their promises, while lauding nearly 90 companies who are identified as leaders in advanced level reporting.

A summary of the press release follows:

(London, 15 March 2012) – A coalition of global investors from 12 countries managing over US$3 trillion of assets today added its voice to increasing calls for better corporate reporting on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) activities.

The coalition of investors, all signatories to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, is writing to 118 UN Global Compact companies with a combined market cap of an estimated US$2.59 trillion, to either:

  • welcome advanced-level reporting, or, conversely,
  • challenge non-communicating companies to regain full participant status.

This is the fifth year that investors have engaged with Global Compact participant companies on the issue of transparency. Each of the 29 laggard companies, with a combined market cap of an estimated US$136.9 billion, are participants of the Global Compact, but have failed to produce the mandatory annual report that communicates their progress on corporate sustainability. The Global Compact recently announced that it has expelled 3,123 companies since 2005 for failure to communicate progress on their efforts to implement its ten sustainability principles.

From 2008 through 2011, the engagement resulted in an average 40.1 percent of laggard companies subsequently submitting their sustainability reports; this has included firms such as BHP Billiton, Aker Solutions, Severn Trent, Merck Kga, Oriflame Cosmetics, The Gap and LVMH. The status of all companies included in last year’s engagement can be found here.

In addition to writing to laggard companies, the investor coalition has acknowledged 89 leader companies with a combined market cap of an estimated US$2.45 trillion who have been identified as advanced-level reporters.  These leaders include Novo Nordisk, Enel, Daimler, Nestle, Telefonica and Siemens. A full list of this year’s leaders can be viewed here.

Steve Waygood, Head of Sustainability, Research and Engagement at Aviva Investors, one of the investors involved in the coalition, said:
“Since we first proposed this initiative over five years ago it has gone from strength to strength, successfully encouraging some 40.1% of companies over the past five years to make good on their reporting commitments to the UN Global Compact. This bodes well for the discussions at the forthcoming UN Rio+20 conference in June, where corporate reporting on sustainability performance is appropriately high on the agenda of the 193 Member States that will be assembled.”

James Gifford, Executive Director of the PRI added,
“After the global financial crisis many investors believe that improved corporate disclosure of ESG issues leads to better risk management, good governance and enhanced transparency, all of which are necessary to protect long-term returns. Companies that would attract investors need to recognise this if they want to attract capital.”

Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact added,
“Corporate sustainability implementation and disclosure both lie at the heart of the UN Global Compact. At the upcoming Rio+20 Summit, there will be an opportunity for governments and public policy makers to fully take stock of the rapidly evolving trends in business sustainability and responsible investment — with an eye towards creating new incentives to drive higher levels of sustainability performance and disclosure. We encourage investors to actively participate in the Rio+20 process, and welcome their contributions”.

The PRI and Global Compact initiatives are engaged in a number of mutually reinforcing activities, including an investor engagement urging companies around the world to sign onto the UN Global Compact. As of November 2011, this engagement saw 211 of the targeted companies join the Global Compact.





KPMG: Expect the Unexpected. Building business value in a changing world.

21 02 2012

In a massive report, KPMG’s study, Expect the Unexpected: Building Business Value in a Changing World, identifies 10 “megaforces” that will significantly affect corporate growth globally over the next two decades. It explores issues such as climate change, energy and fuel volatility, water availability and cost and resource availability, as well as population growth spawning new urban centers. The analysis examines how these global forces may impact business and industry, and calculates the environmental costs to business.

Michael Andrew, Chairman of KPMG International, said: “We are living in a resource-constrained world. The rapid growth of developing markets, climate change, and issues of energy and water security are among the forces that will exert tremendous pressure on both business and society.”

“We know that governments alone cannot address these challenges. Business must take a leadership role in the development of solutions that will help to create a more sustainable future. By leveraging its ability to enhance processes, create efficiencies, manage risk, and drive innovation, business will contribute to society and long-term economic growth.”

The study also highlights that up to one third of the world’s population now live in persistent deprivation.  With 72% of the world’s poor now residing in middle income countries.  The report declares that “persistent inequality is not only wrong, it’s bad for business – it prevents huge swathes of the population from being workers and customers and it increases the risks to business from the type of instability seen in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011.”

Yvo de Boer, KPMG’s Special Global Adviser on Climate Change and Sustainability, said global sustainability megaforces will significantly increase the complexity of the business environment. “Without action and strategic planning, risks will multiply and opportunities will be lost. Corporations are recognizing that there is value and opportunity in responsibility beyond the next quarter’s results; that what is good for people and the planet can also be good for the long term bottom line and shareholder value,” De Boer said.

The report was released last week during KPMG’s business leader summit in New York City in cooperation with the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).





Hertz Living Journey: Global Sustainability Initiative

13 02 2012

Hertz — the world’s largest general use car rental brand—introduced “Living Journey” last week… the Company’s corporate sustainability strategy. Living Journey positions Hertz to be the leader in Sustainable Mobility and Equipment Solutions through various strategic initiatives that integrate sustainability best practices throughout the Company including:

  • Smart Mobility—Hertz is committed to providing customers vehicle rental options that are fuel efficient and use clean, low-emissions technology such as Electric Vehicles (EVs) and hybrids.
  • Environment—Hertz’s goal is to minimize its environmental footprint and operating costs through efficiency improvements, resource management and renewable energy production.
  • Community—Hertz is dedicated to creating a positive impact and enhancing the communities it serves by giving back through philanthropic and volunteer efforts.

“We have a long-standing tradition of innovation and leadership that includes managing the environmental performance and social impacts of the Company alongside our fiscal responsibilities,” said Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and CEO of Hertz. “In 2011, we made tremendous progress on Hertz’s industry-leading solar generation and Electric Vehicle initiatives in addition to ongoing efforts to operate in an environmentally responsible manner at our corporate offices and rental facilities. As a continuation of our success, we are excited to introduce Living Journey which encompasses all of our efforts as an organization through partnerships, employee education and investments to reduce our impact on the environment, provide customer value, and manage our business sustainably.”

Through Hertz’s sustainability efforts, the Company has:

  • Recycled over 50,000 IT units since 2005 which diverted 2 million tons of e-waste from landfills,
  • Recycled approximately 680,000 gallons of used oil in 2011, and
  • Reduced paper use by 2.8 million pounds since 2006.

In addition, more than 80% of the water used at Hertz car washes is recycled. The Company is currently implementing energy audits and lighting upgrades across many of its facilities. Estimated results from recent lighting upgrades include 1.1 million kilowatt-hours and 776 tonnes of CO2 emissions saved annually (across 20 Hertz locations).

To communicate Living Journey to its stakeholders, Hertz has launched a sustainability website (http://www.hertzlivingjourney.com) which is the first of its kind for the Company. The site highlights Hertz’s achievements and plans in the sustainability arena, which includes energy-efficiency improvements such as lighting and HVAC upgrades, utilizing LEED certification standards for Hertz buildings, solar energy production, global recycling efforts, and delivering fuel-efficient fleet choices to consumers.

Last year, Hertz was recognized by the Global Business Travel Association for Sustainable Practice through Hertz On Demand, Hertz’s hourly car rental program.





UC Davis Study: Carbon Disclosure Boosts Stock Price.

9 02 2012

Companies that disclose information about their greenhouse gas emissions and carbon reduction strategies see their stock values rise.

“Companies should not be as reluctant as they have been to provide this information because we show that it can be shareholder-positive. Our message is that it pays to be green.” said Graduate School of Management Professor Paul Griffin.  Along with his co-author, Yuan Sun of UC Berkeley, Griffin tracked stock prices of firms around the time these companies voluntarily issued press releases disclosing carbon emission information. In the days after the press releases were issued, the companies saw their stock prices increase, Griffin and Sun found.

“When a company makes a voluntary disclosure of this kind, it signals to the investment community that this is a firm that is environmentally responsible,” Griffin said. “Investors are saying they would prefer to invest in an environmentally responsible firm.”

The study, “Going Green: Market Reaction to CSR Newswire Releases,” uses the archives of CSR Newswire to identify climate change related press releases issued by companies between 2000 and 2010. The researchers tracked the stock changes of the companies from two days before a press release was issued to two days after.

For the 172 companies identified as making voluntary disclosures, average stock prices increased just under a half percent in the five-day span around the disclosures, according to the study.

“This is evidence that managers’ voluntary climate change disclosures generate positive returns for shareholders,” Griffin said.

The study looked at voluntary disclosures only, so the authors could not definitively determine if required disclosures by all such companies would have yielded similarly favorable stock value increases.

However, to test their findings, the researchers compared stock movements of these companies to stock shifts of similar firms that did not disclose carbon emission information during the same time periods. The companies that did not disclose climate change information did not see a statistically significant increase in values, the study found.

“The matched sample companies do not behave the same way as the companies that disclose,” Griffin said. “If anything, in the matched sample, the price runs in the opposite direction.”

While much of the concern about greenhouse gas emissions has focused on energy and utility companies, the study by Griffin and Sun examined carbon emission strategies across a broad range of industries, including information technology, health care, telecommunications, and financial services, as well as energy and utilities.

The researchers analyzed separately the stock changes for smaller firms that disclosed carbon emission information. These firms saw an even greater effect on their stock values, with prices increasing 2.32 percent.

Compared with large firms, small firms are not followed as closely by analysts, and investors know less about them, so it makes sense that the release of climate change information would have a more pronounced effect, according to Griffin and Sun.

In recent years, companies have faced increased pressure from environmental activists and concerned shareholders to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and to develop strategies to reduce them. Many firms have taken up the challenge, examining the environmental impacts of all aspects of their businesses, from supply chains to manufacturing processes to heating and air conditioning in office buildings.

Original post at Sustainable Brands





50 Fastest Growing Brands Serve a ‘Higher Purpose’

8 02 2012

 

New research on the world’s 50 fastest growing brands found a cause-and-effect relationship between a brand’s ability to serve a higher purpose and its financial performance.

Brand consultants Millward Brown and former Proctor & Gamble marketing officer Jim Stengel developed the list of 50 brands, which they say built the deepest relationships with customers while achieving the greatest financial growth from 2001-2011. Furthermore, investment in these companies – the Stengel 50 – over the past decade would have been 400% more profitable than an investment in the S&P 500.

The list includes numerous brands with strong reputations for sustainability, such as Method, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield Farm and Chipotle.

The study forms the backbone of Stengel’s book GROW: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies (Crown Business; December 27, 2011).

“We wanted to uncover which brands grew the most over the past decade, both in terms of customer bonding and shareholder value,” said Millward Brown Optimor VP Benoit Garbe, who led the study. “Once we identified these brands, our burning question was what, if any, were the common principles that sparked and sustained their growth.”

To arrive at the Stengel 50, Millward Brown Optimor valued thousands of brands across 30+ countries. The list included both B2B and B2C businesses in 28 categories ranging in size from $100 million in revenues to well over $100 billion:

Ideals – The Ultimate Growth Driver

A research team – comprising Millward Brown Optimor brand strategists, Jim Stengel, Professor Sanjay Sood and MBA students at UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management – uncovered that the most successful brands were built on an ideal of improving lives in some way, irrespective of size and category.

“We define ideal as the higher-order benefit a brand or a business gives to the world,” said Stengel. “Some companies are very explicit about their ideals, like Zappos – their ideal of delivering happiness is on their boxes, all over their offices, even on t-shirts employees wear. Other brands, like Louis Vuitton, are more implicit about it. But all their actions – throughout their products, stores and communications – amplify their ideal to luxuriously accentuate the journey of life.”

Added Garbe, “We found that this ideal is both a source of inspiration externally among customers, as well as a compass for internal decision making. So whether it’s Red Bull which seeks to Uplift Mind and Body or Pampers which is all about Caring for Happy Healthy Development of Babies, an ideal influences all facets of the business from HR and Marketing to R&D and Finance.”

Through case studies, GROW demonstrates how brand ideals aren’t simply about altruism or corporate social responsibility but a fundamental human value that is authentic to the brand and ultimately a driver for extraordinary growth. In fact, Millward Brown Optimor’s analysis discovered that those who centered their businesses on ideals had a growth rate triple that of competitors in their categories.

How Ideals Impact the Consumer Mind

Millward Brown’s team also determined that the 50 brands touch on five fundamental human values:

  • Eliciting Joy: Activating experiences of happiness, wonder, and limitless possibility
  • Enabling Connection: Enhancing the ability of people to connect with each other and the world in meaningful ways
  • Inspiring Exploration: Helping people explore new horizons and new experiences
  • Evoking Pride: Giving people increased confidence, strength, security, and vitality
  • Impacting Society: Affecting society broadly, from challenging the status quo to redefining categories

The list of companies is as follows:

Accenture, management and enterprise consulting services

Airtel, mobile communications

Amazon.com, e-commerce

Apple, personal computing technology and mobile devices

Aquarel, bottled water

BlackBerry, mobile communications

Calvin Klein, luxury apparel and accessories

Chipotle, fast food

Coca-Cola, soft drinks

Diesel, youth- targeted fashion apparel and accessories

Discovery Communications, media

Dove, personal care

Emirates, air travel

FedEx, delivery services

Google, Internet information

Heineken, beer

Hennessy, spirits

Hermès, luxury apparel and leather goods

HP, information technology products and services

Hugo Boss, luxury apparel and accessories

IBM, information technology products and services

Innocent, food and beverages

Jack Daniel’s, spirits

Johnnie Walker, spirits

L’Occitane, personal care

Lindt, chocolate

Louis Vuitton, luxury apparel and leather goods

MasterCard, electronic payments

Mercedes-Benz, automobiles

Method, household cleaners and personal care

Moët & Chandon, champagne

Natura, personal care

Pampers, baby care

Petrobras, energy

Rakuten Ichiba, e-commerce

Red Bull, energy drinks

Royal Canin, pet food

Samsung, electronics

Sedmoy Kontinent (“Seventh Continent”), retail grocery

Sensodyne, oral care

Seventh Generation, household cleaners and personal care

Snow, beer

Starbucks, coffee and fast food retailer

Stonyfield Farm, organic dairy products

Tsingtao, beer

Vente-Privee.com, e-commerce

Visa, electronic payments

Wegmans, retail grocery

Zappos, e-commerce

Zara, affordable apparel

Original post at Sustainable Brands





U.N.: “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing.”

1 02 2012

The UN High-Level Panel Global Sustainability released its report in Addis Ababa yesterday entitled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing.” The panel’s 99-page report, which will serve as an input to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June, (otherwise known as the Rio+20 Summit) is a call to action, “to address the sustainable development challenge in a fresh and operational way.”

The executive secretary of the panel, Janos Pasztor said:

We cannot go into sustainable development without making a radical transformation of the economy.”

The long-term vision of the Panel is to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and make growth inclusive, and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other planetary boundaries. In light of this, the report makes a range of recommendations to take forward the Panel’s vision for a sustainable planet, a just society and a growing economy.

 In their summary report, the panel reminded us of the sober reality of the world today.
  • 27 per cent of the world’s population lives in absolute poverty (down from 46 per cent in 1990)
  • Global economic growth is up 75 per cent since 1992 but inequality is still high
  • An increase of 20 million undernourished people since 2000
  • 5.2 million hectares net forest loss per year
  • Ozone layer will recover to pre-1980 levels in 50 years plus
  • Two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are in decline
  • 85 per cent of all fish stocks are over-exploited, depleted, recovering or fully exploited
  • 38 per cent increase in annual global carbon dioxide emissions between 1990 and 2009
  • 20 per cent of the world’s population lack access to electricity
  • 884 million people lack access to clean water
  • 2.6 billion people are without access to basic sanitation
  • 67 million children of primary school age are out of school
  • 3.5-year increase in life expectancy between 1990 and 2010

The report says:

“The signposts are clear: We need to change dramatically, beginning with how we think about our relationship to each other, to future generations, and to the eco-systems that support us. Our mission as a Panel was to reflect on and formulate a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it.

With seven billion of us now inhabiting our planet, it is time to reflect on our current path. Today we stand at a crossroads. Continuing on the same path will put people and our planet at greatly heightened risk.”

Article originally posted on Triplepundit.com





Unilever’s Bold Move: Launches Brave New Foundation.

1 02 2012

Unilever has announced the launch of The Unilever Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life through the provision of hygiene, sanitation, access to clean drinking water, basic nutrition, and enhancing self-esteem.

To help achieve the Foundation’s mission, Unilever has formed partnerships with five leading global organizations that are committed to creating sustainable change worldwide: Oxfam, PSI, Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

The Unilever Foundation is a key action that Unilever is taking to help achieve its goal of helping more than one billion people improve their health and well-being, and in turn, create a sustainable future.

“We live in a rapidly changing world. One where populations are growing, water is becoming increasingly scarce, and where food security is a growing issue. Unilever is committed to addressing the unmet social needs that our business can play a unique role in helping to solve. This is especially true in developing and emerging markets where we have deep roots,” said Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Unilever.

“We aim to double the size of our business while reducing our environmental impact and deliver increased social value. Together with our partners, we will deliver life-saving solutions as we work toward achieving these ambitious goals,” he added.

The challenges of the 21st century are increasingly complex:

  • Over 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.
  • More than 3.5 million children under 5 die annually from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections.
  • One child dies every four seconds from preventable and treatable diseases.
  • 2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation.
  • An estimated 925 million people suffer from chronic hunger.

“Two billion times a day, somebody, somewhere, uses a Unilever brand. Our global reach and scale, coupled with a deep understanding of what triggers consumer behaviours that can lead to a sustainable future, uniquely enable us to drive long-term scalable and systemic change,” added Weed.

The Unilever Foundation will be working with its Global partners on a number of life-saving initiatives:

  • The Unilever Foundation’s partnership with Oxfam will improve lives around the world through programmes designed to empower individuals and deliver good nutrition and clean, safe drinking water.  According to Barbara Stocking, Oxfam Chief Executive, “Unilever and Oxfam have been working together across the world for quite a number of years so we are pleased to be working with Unilever with the new Foundation as it is set up. The first way that we are going to work together is in the UK, providing food parcels to the very poorest people and helping them move from surviving to thriving. We are looking forward to extending that worldwide, focusing on two pillars core to Oxfam’s work on tackling poverty and inequality – the rights of women and access to clean drinking water.”
  • In supporting PSI, the Unilever Foundation is making a tangible contribution to improving the health of children and families through delivering behavioural change interventions focused on hand washing, clean drinking water and sanitation. “The launch of the Unilever Foundation represents the best of what is possible in Davos,” said Karl Hofmann, President and CEO of PSI. “By pooling ideas and resources, private companies and health organizations can improve the health of millions of children and families worldwide.  PSI is excited to be working with Unilever, a company that recognizes – and values – the economic impact of good health.”
  • The Unilever Foundation is working with Save the Children to save and improve the lives of children around the world. This will involve improving access to health workers and life-saving vaccines, and ensuring more children and mothers are reached with high-impact health and nutrition programmes. The partnership will also provide a platform to catalyse a global movement and generate the public and political will for a global breakthrough on child survival. Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of Save the Children International, said “Save the Children is proud to be selected as a partner for the Unilever Foundation. This partnership will help us to deliver transformational change to millions of children’s lives around the world through our EVERY ONE campaign. Each year 7.6 million children die needlessly of preventable illnesses. The support from Unilever will bring us a step closer to ensuring that a health worker is within reach of every child, life-saving vaccines are available for all, and children have enough food to grow up healthy. Combining our global reach and joint mbition – we can give children the chance to fulfil their potential.”
  • The Unilever Foundation and UNICEF are partnering to improve sanitation in developing countries through UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (‘CATS’) initiative, a behaviour change program that promotes good hygiene practices, helps create demand for access to toilets, and raises awareness of the sanitation crisis. “By investing with communities in sanitation, this  partnership is helping us break one of the last taboos in public health – open defecation – and demonstrating real leadership for the private sector,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “Improved sanitation could prevent the deaths of over one million children each year so these investments have enormous potential for the future health and strength of their societies.”
  • The Unilever Foundation is also partnering with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Project Laser Beam, a public-private partnership that aims to create a scalable and sustainable model to improve nutrition, health, and livelihoods in Bangladesh and Indonesia. “With millions of children around the world suffering from malnutrition, there has never been a better time to take action on this truly solvable problem,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “Project Laser Beam is investing in the next generation by ensuring that our children grow up healthy and strong. The knowledge and expertise of partners like the Unilever Foundation help make this goal a reality.”

Additionally, the Unilever Foundation is also working with other organizations worldwide by providing a combination of direct funding, expertise, products and employee support that help to help address country-specific needs primarily aligned with the Foundation’s mission.





New Report: 70% of people won’t buy a brand if they don’t like the parent company.

23 01 2012

Weber Shandwick has released the results of “The Company Behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust,” a study finding that 70 percent of consumers won’t buy into a brand if they don’t like the parent company. Among senior execs, 87 percent said that having a strong brand for the parent company is as important as having a strong product brand.

Responsible brand behaviors also influence purchase decisions.  57% of Americans said “more and more I try to buy products made by a company that does good things for the environment or community” – with 83% of Chinese consumers agreeing to the same statement.  57% of Americans say they “get annoyed when it’s not obvious what company is behind a product.” and 56 percent said they “hesitate” to purchase a product if they can’t tell which company makes it.

Says Micho Spring, Global Corporate Chair of Weber Shandwick, “In this always-on, multi-platform, uncertain world, corporate brands are more important than ever because they provide an anchor of trust and credibility in a sea of dynamic, continual change. A strong corporate brand is essential to unlocking the full value of the enterprise and strengthening its brands, products and services as a result.”

Implications from the report included: invest more time and energy in branding the parent company like making website improvements that go into greater detail, clear labeling (more than two-thirds of respondents said they’re checking labels), and use promotional campaigns as an opportunity to talk about the parent company and the individual brands.

The study concluded:

“Corporate reputation and brand reputation are now nearly indivisible. The importance of a firm’s reputation matters more than ever and is unified with the reputation of product brands to create one powerful enterprise brand. Consumers want assurance that their well-earned dollars, yuan, pounds or reais are spent on products produced by companies that share their values. They have higher expectations for the companies and the brands they like and are not hesitant to turn their backs when they are disappointed or fooled.”

Download a copy of the report here.

KRC Research, IPG’s market research firm, polled 1,375 consumers and 575 senior execs at companies with annual revenue of $500 million or more in October and November 2011. Research was conducted online in the U.S., U.K., China, and Brazil.

Original post on PR Newser





Portfolio 21 Investments: PEAK > Investing at the edge of ecological limits.

16 01 2012

Congratulations to Portfolio 21 Investments in Portland for a remarkably blunt, clear and inspiring strategic approach to managing investments in “the age of volatility.”

In one of the most compelling presentations regarding the need to re-think investment criteria in a world of ecological crises, Portfolio 21 Investments calls for re-thinking traditional criteria for investment and puts forward a unique pov to navigate a new landscape.  They are making a commitment to factor in new levels ecological risks and to seek the rewards from those that are bringing forward innovation and new ways to confront new realities.

By evaluating companies’ energy and resource efficiencies as well developing new strategies for operating in an ecologically limited world, Portfolio 21 is bringing timely and refreshingly enlightened thinking to the investment sector.

Portfolio 21’s report cautions:  “Investors must be aware of a stark and fairly recent truth:  Our economic system has become so large that is is overpowering and threatening the natural systems that support it.  Our failure to anchor the economy within the earth and its systems facilitates a fallacy:  the belief that the economy can grow infinitely, regardless of the planet’s physical limits.”

Kudos to Portfolio’s 21 fresh and importantly provocative pov.  Let’s hope investors listen and companies heed the wisdom.

Get the PEAK report here.





BrandAsset® Valuator: Fewer trust brands but trust is key to building brand equity.

16 01 2012

Kudos once again to our friend John Gerzema and his team at BrandAsset® Valuator for another compelling report on the key trends related to trust, brands, and the rise of the what they deem “The Citizen Marketplace”.

The headlines from their analysis and research demonstrate two inter-related factors as it relates to trust and brands:

That trust is the true, new brand differentiator.

  • 25% of people surveyed trusted brands in 2009, down from 49% at the beginning of the decade.
  • 45% cite trust as key to future potential or brand strength, up from 29% in 2001.

Other key findings in the research is the rise in social media as social contract with trust of social media outlets outpacing that of traditional media (and Twitter leading the trust game among social media outlets).

John and his BAV team conclude the following branding imperatives in the era of the Citizen Marketplace.

  • Trust is the new differentiator
  • There are numerous pathways to trust for companies and brands to pursue based on category requirements and their purpose and values
  • As communications evolve into conversations, social media is moving past social currency to social contract
  • Companies must not think social media, but ‘social as business model’.

Download a BAV presentation on the research here.

Thanks again BAV team for sharing this insightful work.





Edelman Trust Barometer: Only 46% of Americans trust business to do the right thing.

12 01 2012

In their 11th annual global survey on trust, Edelman research reports that people’s trust of institutions and returned to levels comparable to the height of the worldwide financial crises in 2009.

When asked how much they trust various institutions, only NGO’s were trusted by the majority of U.S. respondents.  Business, government and the media are not trusted by the majority of people and media’s trustworthiness as reached record lows.

  • 55% trust non-government organizations
  • 46% trust business.
  • 40% trust government.
  • 27% trust the media.

The drivers to corporate reputations are quality, transparency, trustworthiness and employee well-being.

The study concludes that businesses must align profit and purpose for social benefit.  It reports that people’s demands for authority and accountability are setting new expectations for corporate leadership and that trust is the essential component to both protect reputations and gain tangible benefits.  Lack of trust is a barrier to change.





Asda UK: The new weird is to do nothing.

14 12 2011

The retailer Asda has 500 stores across the United Kingdom, serves more than 18 million customers a week, and has a home shopping busienss that serves over 98% of UK homes.

Adsa just released the results of research it did with over 6,000 Asda customers – who they affectionately have labeled Everyday Experts.

Results from the research are encouraging and revealing.  One of the most compelling findings is that levels of caring about sustainability issues did not vary among high, middle or low income participants.

Other key findings in the report included:

  • 80% said they plan to continue or increase the number of green products they buy.
  • 80% said they buy green products because they think it’s just the right thing to do.
  • 70% said they care about being green—no matter what their gender, age, location or income level, with more than a quarter (28%) saying they care very much indeed.

You can access the Asda research here.





KPMG: U.S. companies “scratching the surface” in Corporate Responsibility reporting.

2 12 2011

In its 18th year of tracking the reporting of Corporate Responsibility, KPMG has issued its latest annual CR Reporting survey.  KPMG analyzed the reports of 3400 companies in 34 different countries.  Among the findings, companies based in the U.S. are lagging behind other regions of the world in terms of the walking the walk vs. talking the talk on corporate responsibility.

According to KPMG, “Companies that can be seen as ‘Scratching the Surface’ are those that have the highest risk of failing to deliver on the promises they make in their CR report and/or targets they have set. These companies have chosen to focus more heavily on communicating their CR achievements effectively by choosing multiple channels and integrating CR in the regular annual reporting without focusing equally on the CR systems and processes. As a result, they may reach their audiences more effectively than the group that ‘is getting it right.’ However, they could also risk increasing feedback and pressure from their stakeholders, including their investors.”

Among other interesting insights and facts in the report include:

  • Of the 250 largest global companies, fully 95 percent now report on their CR activities. This represents a jump of more than 14 percent over the 2008 survey.
  • With almost half of the largest companies already demonstrating financial gains from their CR initiatives, and with the increasing importance of innovation and learning as key drivers for reporting, it is clear that CR has moved from being a moral imperative to a critical business issue.
  • Companies that continue to utilize only one channel of communication (such as an annual report) for their CR reporting will quickly find that they are losing ground to competitors who offer their data across multiple forms of media that appeal to a wider variety of stakeholder groups. However, the design of the specific systems and processes to facilitate this level of communication and specificity may prove complex for many organizations.

Download a copy of the KPMG Survey here.





The Enlightened Trend: Shared Value vs. Shareholder Value.

1 12 2011

93% of CEOs believe sustainability issues will be key to business success in the future.  The concept of creating shared value vs. shareholder value is beginning to penetrate the consciousness of many corporate boardrooms. This new report from FSG – the nonprofit consulting firm – gives best in class examples of social engagement strategies where corporate and social issues are aligned.

According to FSG, “the most advanced companies have begun to look at social engagement through a different lens entirely.  Rather than seeing business and society in opposition, they recognize the enormous potential of business to contribute to social progress.  At the same time, they understand that firms depend on healthy and well-functioning societies to thrive.  Such companies seek to create “shared value” – incorporating social issues into their core business strategies to benefit both society and their own long-term competitiveness.”

Says Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter, “What’s happening now is really a redefinition of the boundaries of capitalism.  Creating shared value is the next stage of evolution in the sophistication of the capitalist model.”

The report was sponsored by HP and features examples from global business leaders committed to creating shared value, including Alcoa, GE, Cisco, and Nestle among others.

You can download a pdf of the report here.

(Figure from FSG)





Consumer Environmental Behaviors Have Shifted For Good.

30 11 2011

In a recent survey revisiting consumer attitudes toward environmental issues vs. 20 years ago, GfK Roper and S.C. Johnson demonstrate how much progress has been made.

 

The research study reports that 73 percent say they know a lot or a fair amount about environmental issues and problems, up from 50 percent earlier. Compared to 20 years ago, twice as many Americans are taking proactive steps to help the environment. Today, 58 percent of Americans recycle, 29 percent buy green products regularly and 18 percent commute in an environmentally friendly manner.

And the impact can be dramatic.  According to Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability at SC Johnson, “Simply recycling one aluminum soda can yields enough energy to power my laptop for five hours or light up my office for 20 hours using a 60-watt energy-saving light bulb. These individual steps are made possible because individuals have a desire to modify their behavior, but also because businesses and governments have taken a leadership role in facilitating these changes by providing the right tools, products and processes.”

 

Three-in-four respondents agree that “a manufacturer that reduces the environmental impact of its production process and products is making a smart business decision.” Those are much higher marks than Americans gave business in 1990. Individuals place themselves higher at 38 percent and rank businesses lower at 29 percent when asked who should take the lead in addressing environmental problems and issues.

Said Semrau, “We all have a role to play to protect our earth, and 75 percent of American consumers say they feel good when taking steps to help the environment. That’s huge. Through increased environmental knowledge and with the right products and tools, we can all appeal to that sentiment to make smarter choices for a greener lifestyle.”

Green shopping photo via Shutterstock.





newSKY: Shoes that re-imagine recycling from New Balance.

28 11 2011

New Balance has introduced newSKY sneakers—which are made from 95% recycled PET plastic bottles and developed a partnership with Coca-Cola’s bottled water brand Dasani.  Great example of companies who can collaborate to achieve mutually beneficial sustainability objectives.

newSKY shoes are available in both men and women’s styles in many different colors.  An interesting holiday gift for the eco-minded family member and friends.

Since its cyber Monday – shop on-line for newSKY here,





Fruitwash: Organic Soap Label for Fruit

26 11 2011

Here’s a bright idea from New York based electrical engineer and designer Scott Amron.  He has designed a fruit label that contains organic soap.  Just as the name suggests, the new label dissolves into organic fruit soap that helps remove water-resistant wax, pesticides and fungicides.

Amron Experimental is currently selling a 10 percent stake in the Fruitwash Label Intellectual Property (patents) and hopes to bring the labels to market within the next 6-9 months.

 “I’ve always been discontent with fruit labels and felt they could do more than just display product info and be difficult to peel off,” Amron told Gizmag. “We buy, wash and eat fruit. So, the wash step was the next thing the label should help with.”

Whilst the labels ingredients are currently being kept secret, they are designed to “outlast the fruit they label,” says Amron. The process of adding water and rubbing the label triggers the dissolving action, which transforms the label into a fruit wash. Alternatively, the stickers can be peeled off and thrown away.

“[The] best thing is the labels help make the fruit cleaner,” says Amron. “And, there’s no label to peel off and throw away unless you choose to peel the label off and throw it away.”

Original article at gizmag

photo credit: Amron Experimental

 

 





WindMade: First Consumer Label Attracts Leading Global Brands

26 11 2011

Major global companies including Motorola Mobility, Deutsche Bank, Bloomberg, Method and BD (Becton, Dickinson and Co.) have produced or have pledged to procure at least 25 percent of their operations’ power consumption from wind energy. They announced their commitment to become certified under the new WindMade consumer label at a Global Launch event in New York.

The companies pioneering the use of the world’s first wind power consumer label were unveiled today at an event hosted by WindMade and the UN Global Compact in New York.

The label allows participating companies to communicate the share of wind power and other renewable sources as part of the overall power demand of their operations. The objective behind WindMade is to drive demand in wind power, thereby boosting investment and growing the renewable energy market.

Here is a video that tells the story of the WindMade label.

“These companies are at the forefront of the global sustainability movement,” said Henrik Kuffner, WindMade’s CEO. “We are delighted to have them on board the unique WindMadeTM initiative, and are confident that many others will follow suit in the coming weeks and months.”

“Consumers are ready to act. 67 percent of 31,000 consumers globally have told us they would favor WindMade products, even at a premium,” said Morten Albæk, SVP Global Marketing and Customer Insight at Vestas Wind Systems, the company spearheading the WindMade initiative. “WindMade empowers people to choose brands that choose wind.”

“We believe clean growth is good economics,” said Sabine Miltner, Group Sustainability Officer for Deutsche Bank. “We are committed to leveraging our core business expertise towards a cleaner and more energy efficient global economy. We believe in leading by example and have increased our use of clean electricity from seven percent to 65 percent over the last four years. WindMade is an important step toward more market transparency and we are pleased to join this new partnership.”

“It is Motorola Mobility’s intent through our participation in the WindMade initiative to encourage greater use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar around the globe,” said Bill Olson, director office of sustainability and stewardship, Motorola Mobility.

“The supply side of the clean energy sector can clearly deliver, but now it is time to galvanize demand. Government has done their part, and it is now up to the corporate community to demonstrate leadership by committing to clean energy development. WindMade provides us with a roadmap for achieving this,” said Curtis Ravenel, head of sustainability, Bloomberg.”Corporations investing in wind energy technology need a global set of standards if they are to provide the transparency that’s critical to their stakeholders as well as gain the competitive advantage that such investments can mean for their businesses,” said Kathy Nieland, U.S. sustainable business solutions leader, PwC.

”Using wind power helps BD become a more sustainable organization, and the WindMade label sends a message to our customers and the industry that supporting clean sources of electricity is a sound business decision and an important choice in reducing a corporation’s environmental footprint,” said Glenn Barbi, vice president, Global Sustainability, BD.

For more information on the founders and pioneers, see http://www.windmade.org.

According to the WindMade requirements, companies using the label must source a minimum of 25 percent of the electricity consumed from wind power. The wind energy share can be procured through a company-owned wind power generation facility, a long-term power purchase agreement for wind power, or the purchase of high quality Renewable Energy Certificates approved by WindMadeTM. The exact percentage of the wind energy share will be stated on the label. Companies can choose to certify global, regional or facility level operations, a distinction that will be clearly communicated on the label itself.

WindMade, which was introduced to the world at this past year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, is backed by the UN Global Compact, Vestas Wind Systems, World Wildlife Fund, Global Wind Energy Council, Bloomberg (as the official data provider), and the LEGO Group. PwC is the official verification partner.

A separate label for products is in development and will be released during 2012.





GREENPEACE: HP Leads Greener Electronics Race. Research in Motion in the cellar.

17 11 2011

In releasing its latest guide to Greener Electronics, Greenpeace has ranked 15 leading technology companies and how they are performing on key measures around sustainability.  The guide is intended to help consumers make better informed decisions when purchasing technology products and help businesses evaluate the performance of their technology vendors in helping them achieve their own sustainability objectives.

Download the Greenpeace Guide here

The comprehensive analysis will help consumers understand the impact of specific products, as well as the sustainability performance of the overall corporation. New criteria added to this edition of the Guide are based on the creation of truly sustainable electronics industry, Greenpeace said, and include a holistic examination of key supply chain issues.

“Right now, HP takes the top spot because it is scoring strongly by measuring and reducing carbon emissions from its supply chain, reducing its own emissions and advocating for strong climate legislation. However all companies we included in the Guide have an opportunity to show more leadership in reducing their climate impact”, Tom Dowdall of Greenpeace said in a statement.

Blackberry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) is ranked for the first time and scored well on conflict minerals and sustainable paper policy. But the company ranked bottom of the table because it needs to improve reporting and disclosure of its environmental performance, Greenpeace said.  It is interesting to note that failure to communicate progress – the opposite of the idea of sustainable branding – was a key factor in RIM receiving such a low ranking.





Congrats Honest Tea. Will report sustainability progress on Tumblr.

10 11 2011

Honest Tea’s decision to expand to this new communication channel reflects a trend among sustainable brands to find the most effective way to leverage corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting to increase dialogue and engagement with consumers.

The organic bottled tea company released the second edition of its annual Mission Report in combination with a new Tumblr site that will update regularly with posts about the company’s progress on social and environmental initiatives.

Honest Tea released a digital version of the report, which is becoming standard practice, and some companies – led by outdoor companyPatagonia’s example – are building entire microsites dedicated to tracking the sustainability of products and services. Others are choosing to incorporate CSR reporting into the traditional annual report, as Clorox did this year, indicating that sustainability performance is reaching the same level of importance as other corporate disclosures.

Honest Tea’s report, called Keeping It Honest, details the company’s initiatives related to products, packaging, people and partners. It highlights achievements, such as the conversion of all teas to Fair Trade Certified, the company’s first annual service day, and the launch of a new product, Honest CocoaNova.

The report also addresses sustainability challenges, such as packaging, providing consumers with an introspective look at how the company strives to scale a mission-driven business.

Acquired by Coca-Cola earlier this year, Honest Tea also will utilize its Facebook page to host a Keeping It Honest tab, during Honest’s “Mission Month”, where Honest fans can choose a personal mission each week, creating their own agenda for change, the company says.

Go to the Keeping it HONEST site here.

Since Honest Tea was founded in Bethesda, Maryland in 1998, the company has sustained an impressive double-digit annual growth rate. The company was listed as one of PlanetGreen.com’s Top 7 Green Corporations of 2010. It also received Greenopia.com’s coveted 4-Leaf Rating as “the greenest beverage company” for the third year in a row and was recently ranked by The Huffington Post as one of the leading “8 Revolutionary Socially Responsible Companies.”



Original article published at Sustainable Brands Weekly





Global Opportunity: Tell It How It Is – according to Cone Echo Research

18 10 2011

In its newly released global research report, Cone Echo Research highlight the opportunity for business to build a stronger relationship with consumers by meeting their expectations that business will address social and environmental issues through their operations, their products and services and their unique expertise.  

The trend is global as evidenced by the results in ten countries and the 10,000 people who were surveyed.  And not surprisingly, communication is critical in bridging the gap between perception and reality.

  • 93% of consumers say they want to know what companies are doing.
  • 91% of people say they want to be heard as well.

This means that reciprocal communication is more than an expectation, its essential in building a strong connection with consumers.  And critical to overcoming the confusion, skepticism and even cynicism among consumers.  

  • 89% of consumers globally believe companies share only the positive information about their efforts, while withholding the negative.
  • 71% are confused by the messages companies use to talk about their efforts and impacts.
  • 61% of consumers believe a company is telling the truth about its social and environmental efforts and impacts, but this varies widely by nationality.

Trust is more complex.

The more trusting a country’s consumers are in business, the more confused they are by a company’s messages. These consumers are putting great faith in the words of business, even though they don’t necessarily understand the messages themselves. In return, they don’t ask for perfection, simply the truth. Nearly nine-in-10 (88%) say it’s ok if a company is not perfect, as long as it is honest about its efforts. This permission presents an opportunity for companies to speak candidly about tough CR issues to build trust.

Follow this link to access the Global CR Study





ImagePower Survey: 60+% of consumers globally want to buy from environmentally responsible companies.

10 06 2011

Monterey, CA – June 8, 2011– Consumer appetite for green products has increased significantly in the past year, according to findings from the annualImagePower® Global Green Brands Survey, one of the largest global consumer surveys of green brands and corporate environmental responsibility. This year’s survey, which polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries, reveals that consumers worldwide intend to purchase more environmental products in the auto, energy and technology sectors compared to last year. Now more savvy about how green choices in personal care, food and household products directly affect them and their families, global consumers are expanding their green purchase interest to higher-ticket items such as cars and technology.

Industries protecting the environment

Consumers are divided on which industry currently does the best job of protecting the environment. 18 percent of American and 20 percent of Australian consumers say the energy industry does the best job of protecting the environment. By comparison, most of respondents in Germany (19 percent), India (22 percent), China (33 percent) and Brazil (22 percent) cite the technology sector. In the UK, more than 21 percent of consumers say the grocery store industry is the top protector of the environment.

Where consumers are spending

While personal care, grocery and household products are the industries with the greatest representation among the top ten brands list, consumers in the US indicate that they intend to spend more money on green technology, energy and automotive products or services in the next year. When it comes to current usage of green products or services, the 2011 study reveals that the household products and grocery categories have the highest consumer adoption rates in all countries except China, where packaged goods/beverages and personal care are the most used categories, and in Brazil, where household products and personal care dominate. In all countries, consumers indicate that in the coming year they are less likely to buy green packaged goods and beverages, grocery and household products.

“We’re seeing a shift in the ‘In Me, On Me, Around Me’ mentality when it comes to purchasing green products,” said Russ Meyer, Chief Strategy Officer of Landor Associates. “Consumers have a good understanding of how green choices in personal care, food and household products directly affect their families, and they are now seeing benefits like costs savings that attract them to higher cost items like cars and technology.”

Greater perceived value in developing countries

Consistent with last year’s study, more than 60 percent of consumers globally want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. Respondents in all eight countries surveyed indicate that they are willing to spend more on green products. In developed countries such as the US and the UK, roughly 20 percent of those surveyed would spend more than 10 percent extra on a green product.

In developing countries, however, consumers say that green products have a higher inherent value. Ninety-five percent of Chinese consumers say they are willing to spend more on a product because it’s green—with 55 percent of them willing to spend between 11-30 percent more. Similarly 29 percent of Indian consumers and 48 percent of Brazilians say they are willing to spend between 11 – 30 percent more on green products.

“Consumers in developing countries express greater concern over the state of the environment in their countries, which may contribute to their greater willingness to pay more for green products,” said Paul Andrepont, Senior Vice President of Penn Schoen Berland. “Consumers in these markets also differ from their developed-nation counterparts in believing that selection, rather than cost, is the greatest barrier to buying green products. Brands that address these consumers’ very real concern – over air pollution in India or deforestation in Brazil – have the ability to position themselves as premium in the market, a possible competitive advantage.”

Packaging is critical

Packaging continues to be a matter of great concern for US consumers. Seventy-one percent believe companies use too much material in product packaging – though only 34 percent of US consumers say they consciously purchase products that use less packaging. Almost half of American consumers feel that packaging that can be recycled is more important than packaging made from recycled or biodegradable materials.

Packaging also plays a critical role in communicating product benefits to US consumers. More than 50 percent of American consumers say on-pack information helps them understand how green a product is. Additionally, 40 percent say that packaging is their primary source for information on environmental issues regarding products.

“Other than price, the two biggest influences on purchase decisions are on-package messaging and prior experience with the product, both of which satisfy the consumer need to understand a benefit beyond ‘saving the world,’” said Annie Longsworth, global sustainability practice leader for Cohn & Wolfe. “It’s critical for green brands to communicate the real and tangible benefits of their products in addition to being green, which still feels like luxury to many consumers.”

2011 US rankings
For the first time since the inception of the ImagePower® Green Brands Study in 2006, the four brands perceived to be the greenest are “born green” companies. The full list includes:

  1. Seventh Generation
  2. Whole Foods
  3. Tom’s of Maine
  4. Burt’s Bees
  5. Trader Joe’s
  6. The Walt Disney Company
  7. S.C. Johnson
  8. Dove
  9. Apple
  10. Starbucks, Microsoft (tied)

“When we analyzed the approach of the top ten brands companies, using our Esty Environmental Scorecard™, it was clear that the winners achieve a product-value-information trifecta,” said Amy Longsworth, partner at Esty Environmental Partners. “The top brands offer clear price value through co-benefits: a great innovative product that meets my functional needs plus green attributes that meet my values needs. These companies also tend to have robust life-cycle insight and complete sustainability strategies across their value chains, which enable them to draw from rich experience and data for their consumer communications.”

Methodology

The seventh annual Green Brands study polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries —including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Brazil, India, Germany, France and Australia—and was conducted by WPP agencies (NASDAQ: WPPGY) Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland Associates (PSB), as well as independent sustainability strategy consulting firm Esty Environmental Partners. The Green Brands Study identifies emerging trends related to consumer perception and purchasing behavior of “green” products. The study was conducted online among the general adult population between April 2, 2011 and May 3, 2011. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.0%. In China, India, and Brazil, respondents were from tier-one cities.

To view 2011 global findings, click here. For US findings, click here.





LA TIMES: Skepticism grows over products touted as eco-friendly.

27 05 2011
Great article below by Tiffany Hsu from the Los Angeles Times highlight consumer’s confusion over eco-branded products. According to a recent survey, 65% of consumers want a single seal identifying a green product, similar to the way beef is labeled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But for now, there’s a swarm of companies that issue green certification, endorsements and labels for a fee.
A word of warning for all marketers that sustainable branding is not about false marketing claims and green gimmicks.  It is about an authentic commitment to providing responsible and sustainable brands for the future of the planet and the protection of mankind.
By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

May 21, 2011

To Marina Meadows, green may be the new white.When she goes shopping these days, Meadows is often overwhelmed by a bevy of products touted as green, from Earth-friendly dish soaps and bamboo-derived towels to eco-detergents and plant-based soda bottles.But the Santa Monica resident, 26, said that while she is willing to pay extra to help the environment, she’s often not sure how much of the labeling she should believe.”Sometimes, I wonder if any of it’s really green or if it’s all a marketing scheme,” Meadows said.With booming interest in the environment, more companies are trying to cash in by promoting themselves and their products as green.

But environmentalists and some consumers are crying foul, saying that many companies are making the products out to be greener than they really are, a practice they call greenwashing.

The term caught on when hotels began asking guests to reuse towels, saying they were trying to conserve water, though skeptics said it was really to skimp on laundry costs.

These days, greenwashing is reaching “epidemic proportions,” according to advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather, which has been pushing for accurate environmental marketing.

“If we allow companies to get away with exaggeration, consumer skepticism will become cynicism and they’ll stop choosing green products at all,” said Scott McDougall, chief executive of eco-marketing company TerraChoice.

Last year, TerraChoice counted 5,000 items in retail stores that claimed to be green, a 73% increase from the year before. But on every toy and 95% of home and family products, at least one eco-friendly claim turned out to be misleading or false, the company found.

Some efforts just seem a bit odd: Plastic Barbie dolls can now sport handbags and accessories made from recycled materials.

“Most companies are engaged in incremental tinkering — symbolic actions without any real substance,” said Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International.

But no one can agree on what exactly makes a product green and therefore what exactly constitutes greenwashing.

As a result, federal regulators have had difficulty setting standards to regulate green labeling. The Federal Trade Commission has a voluntary guideline for eco-advertising, but it is 20 years old. It is being updated.

According to a recent survey, 65% of consumers want a single seal identifying a green product, similar to the way beef is labeled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But for now, there’s a swarm of companies that issue green certification, endorsements and labels for a fee.

One such program, the EcoAd from EcoMedia, a division of CBS Corp., has earned the ire of some environmental groups. They complained to the FTC that CBS was being potentially deceptive when it sells green leaf badges for advertisers to use in commercials.

“An Eco-label that promises advertisers a green image while telling them they don’t need to do anything to earn that image is the very definition of greenwashing,” said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health, in a statement.

A portion of all EcoAd proceeds go to environmental projects, said EcoMedia President Paul Polizzotto. And although there aren’t disclaimers on the ads themselves, viewers are directed to a website noting that the leaf symbol is not meant as an endorsement of the companies that use it.

“If an advertiser wants 30 seconds of your time, they might as well improve the quality of your life, and that’s the furthest thing from greenwashing,” Polizzotto said. “What I usually see in media is a lot of talk about greening and not a lot of action.”

Labels play a major role in helping consumers decide between products claiming to be green. Nearly 40% said they rely on labels, according to a report from the eco-marketing company Shelton Group.

“Many don’t trust manufacturer motives, but they end up making a decision at the shelf based on the packaging, usually just buying the brands they’ve always bought,” said Suzanne Shelton, chief executive of the group.

It can be a tricky call for consumers, who are regularly met by a vast array of vaguely defined green catchphrases such as “natural,” “clean” and “organic.”

Even manufacturers often don’t know the difference between designations such as “compostable” and “biodegradable,” researchers said. Biodegradable goods break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass over time, while compostable items do the same while also releasing nutrients into the soil, which can be good for growing plants.

“Companies don’t really understand the science behind it and they don’t question it,” said Steven Mojo, executive director of Biodegradable Products Institute, a testing group. “They think that their packaging or product is somehow going to magically disappear in a landfill.”

Claire Scarisbrick, 26, recently spent half an hour sifting through eco-friendly body wash options atWhole Foods. The dental hygienist and chef, who lives near West Pico Boulevard and South La Brea Avenue, said she researches unfamiliar brands on her iPhone and avoids green products from large companies out of fear of being “duped.”

She likes locally produced products that aren’t heavily processed. She didn’t buy a cosmetic company’s “natural” line of face washes after she compared it to the company’s standard product and found little difference in the ingredients.

“I don’t want to be putting something with 30 chemicals in it onto my skin,” she said. “If I’ve got the money, I’d much rather spend more of it on something that I believe in, not something that’s just easily accessible.”

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com





Fair Trade Certified Labeled Products Increases Sales.

28 04 2011
Researchers from Harvard, the London School of Economics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Release Study on the Value of Ethical Labeling

Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, reports new findings which confirm that the prominent appearance of the Fair Trade Certified™ label increases sales  among coffee-buying consumers.

To investigate the topic of consumer demand for Fair Trade products, researchers Jens Hainmueller of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michael J. Hiscox of Harvard University, and Sandra Sequeira of the London School of Economics, conducted a six-month research study in partnership with a prominent national grocery retailer. As reported this weekend in the Wall Street Journal, the team examined purchasing behavior among actual consumers at 26 stores and key findings show that:

  • The Fair Trade Certified label alone has a large positive impact on sales.
  • Sales of the two most popular bulk coffees sold in each of the 26 test stores increased by up to 13 percent when labeled as Fair Trade Certified.
  • The study also revealed that a substantial segment of consumers are willing to pay up to eight percent more for a product bearing the Fair Trade Certified label.

The findings are consistent with a Globescan study conducted in 2010, which revealed that 75 percent of consumers said Fair Trade certification makes them feel “very positive or positive” about products; 30 percent said Fair Trade is “likely to increase their purchase interest;” and over half said “independent third-party certification is the best way to verify” a product’s social and environmental claims.

Overall the findings suggest that there is substantial consumer support for Fair Trade,” said Michael J. Hiscox of Harvard University. “The Fair Trade label by itself had a large positive effect on sales, indicating that a substantial number of coffee buyers place a positive value on Fair Trade certification. In addition, a sizeable segment of coffee buyers were willing to pay a premium for coffee if the premium was directly associated with support for Fair Trade. The tests suggest that there are plenty of consumers ready to vote with their shopping dollars to support Fair Trade when it is offered as an option by retailers.”

The study can be referenced online at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1801942.