Thursday, April 24, 2008

Green my Launch Please

Another Earth Day has come and gone, and as expected countless companies, such as Coke, Home Depot and UPS, pounced on the ‘Go Green’ PR opp to increase public perception – and profit. Interesting observation – As companies filed for green-themed trademarks in preparation for the big launch day, the number of applications received by the US Trademark Office skyrocketed last year. According to Advertising Age, applications containing the word “green” more than doubled from 2006 to 2007; from 1,100 in 2006 to 2,400 in 2007. But green wasn’t the only word buzzing around consumer products. The word “eco” generated an increase in 900 applicants from 2006 – 2007, and the word “friendly” grew by 88%. Looks as if green caught flame fast!

Earlier on, I questioned the intent of companies who are reaching out to eco-conscious consumers, and it sounds as if I am not the only one who doubts the authenticity of companies’ efforts. Following Earth Day, several blogs began to pop up taking a skeptical outlook on companies’ intents to align green product launches with Earth Day. The general consensus? As consumers are beginning to distinguish marketing speak from real green efforts, businesses that are looking to break through the increased green messaging must prove their authenticity. This PRWeek states it best:

“As consumers are bombarded with more green messages, they are becoming wearier - and more critical - of what those eco-wrapped packages contain and who's
behind them.”
News flash to marketers – consumers are brighter than you think, and they are beginning to think to themselves, “you know, maybe Company X’s efforts to support the environment aren’t legit.”

BrandWeek provides an interesting take on the Green trend, recommending that companies should focus on green in a broader context:

“These days it seems like every brand manager wants his or her brand to be
green. Green is a microtrend that actually falls under the umbrella of the
larger, more strategic macrotrend: conscience.”

BrandWeek defines a macrotrend as “a fundamental, societal shift that influences consumer attitudes over a long period of time.” I like the outlook this article takes because it challenges marketing and PR professionals to deemphasize their focus on the “latest trend” and realign their attention on the bigger picture. So, instead of responding to consumer trends reactively, how can PR professionals get ahead of consumers and actually create the next trend, finding the next big microtrend within the overarching macrotrend? Something to think about.

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