Case Study: Michael’s Naturopathic Programs

April 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets


In 2013, Global Industry Analysis, a large research organization, released a study that estimated that the global vitamin and mineral market will reach total sales of $30 billion in 2015. This is one-third of the total sales within natural, organic and healthy products marketplace, which is reported around $91 billion. Not bad. However, despite overall size of industry, it has been showing slower growth in recent years. This has been attributed to a number of factors including economic crisis, regulation difficulties, and a saturation of products in mature markets. Today, the choices are many for consumers and the competition is steep.

What’s more, with the advent of social media, and the growing influence of the Internet, consumers are more educated and “connected” than ever before. So what’s a 30-plus year old brand to do in an exceptionally cluttered market place? For Michael’s Naturopathic Programs (MNP), it was getting down to basics.

We asked a broad range of industry buyers, sales reps and MNP staff what was meaningfully different about Michael’s brand versus the plethora of other choices out there. The answer was evident.

Michael’s Naturopathic Programs work! Not true for many other brands we found. But for MNP for over 30 years, their time-tested, complete formulations nourished the body and gave it exactly what it needed. We also learned:

• MNP strives to inspire people to better heath

• Have solid, long-term reputation for excellence

• A reputation for transparency and quality ingredients

• Affordably priced

• One of the only products in the market with a guarantee

• High-potency formulas that are appropriately formulated

• Products are therapeutically formulated for specific health concerns rather than single vitamins or herbs

• Contain vitamins, minerals, aminos and herbs, unlike other brands

• Naturopathically oriented

So how do you distill this down to a few words that would convey their promise of value, and pop on the new packaging we designed? NOTE: It’s important when crafting an advertising branding line that the message isn’t generic. Meaning delivering a line or phrase that any other brand could say as well. Can’t tell you how often we see that.

For Michael’s, we came up with three words that said it all: “Tried and Truthful”.  No other brand in this category could say that. And that’s what makes a powerful marketing message. A position and memorable line that you, and you alone, own.

What’s the message you own?

Mind Over Markets receives the Go Green Advertising Awards

April 2nd, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

gogreenaward logo


We are thrilled to announce (brag) that Mind Over Markets was the recipient of the 2013 Go Green Advertising Awards (GGA Awards) for our work with Growstone, a manufacturer of horticultural products and growing mediums made from 100% recycled glass from NM landfills (oh yeah!).

GGA is (their words) “the most elite, national-level advertising awards program developed specifically for the promotion of green-themed products and services.” Basicially, they recognize excellence in green advertising efforts. This particular award was for our design and concept of Growstone’s logo. Check out their green American flag here. It says it all, doesn’t it?

Black flag  - 13X19-1

How to Make Money from Consumers’ Sustainable Behavior

April 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

An online tool can help executives build a business case for sustainability, say nonprofit business network BSR and consultancy Futerra. The Business Case Builder, developed by BSR’s Sustainable Lifestyles Business Group, which includes brands such as Carlsberg, Cathay Pacific, Disney, eBay, Hilton Worldwide, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Mars and Mondelez, aims to guide firms through six steps to help them sustain economic value from encouraging consumers’ sustainable behavior.

The online tool is the result of a BSR and Futerra survey earlier this year that found the majority of 54 companies expect sustainable lifestyles will deliver growth, innovation and sales by 2018. Some 40 percent said their company is encouraging consumers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles — but they also said consumers are only mildly interested in sustainability. The biggest barrier to sustainable lifestyles, according to executives, is the lack of a business case.

The six Business Case Builder steps are:

  1. Right behavior: Identify the consumer behavior that will have the most significant sustainability impact. Do this by identifying the business’ biggest environmental impacts through a materiality process and determining consumers’ role through a life cycle assessment.
  2. Right value: Focusing on the right business drivers. The tool identifies six — regulation, risk, reputation, market, sales and innovation — each with a series of subcategories.
  3. Right tactics: Identify the tactic that is most likely to change consumer behavior and deliver economic value.
  4. Right benchmark: A strong business case is built on precedent. The tool includes about 30 case studies covering four areas: waste and resources, energy and water, healthy living and sustainable products.
  5. Do it right: Learn from global brands how to build value — functional, emotional or social — for the consumer into the plan so the consumer receives benefits from changing behavior. For example, Sprint’s Buyback program, which gives consumers money to recycle old phones, collected 40 million devices between 2001 and 2012. In 2012, the company gave consumers $75 million; Sprint saved $1 billion. And Levi’s WaterLess jeans, which use a finishing technique that reduces water use in the finishing process by up to 96 percent for some styles use, taps into consumers’ desire to help the environment. In 2012, the WaterLess collection saved more than 360 million liters of water and the jeans now sell faster than standard Levi’s jeans.
  6. Celebrate it: Providing evidence such as case studies and feedback to help BSR and Futerra improve the tool.

Source: Environmental Leader


When Good Is Not Good Enough

November 11th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets



Leaders of two of the most successful nonprofit organizations argue that the sector needs to shift its attention from modest goals that provide short-term relief to bold goals that, while harder to achieve, provide long-term solutions by tackling the root of social problems.

Many of the fastest-growing nonprofit organizations begin with well-intentioned interventions and relatively naive ideas about the magnitude and complexity of the problems they aim to solve. Share Our Strength and KaBOOM! are no exception. By some measures our organizations were successful US nonprofits—growing rapidly, engaging numerous partners, and improving the lives of tens of millions of children.

Yet all the while, the problems we were tackling—hunger and the lack of opportunities to play—were getting worse and even accelerating in recent years as the economy took a downturn. More than 16 million kids in America now live in poverty, up from 11.6 million in 2000. For Share Our Strength, we knew the grants we were providing to feed hungry people were benefiting the recipients, but we confronted the hard truth that one in five American children struggles with hunger. Similarly, for KaBOOM!, we witnessed how children who played on our playgrounds benefited physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally, but we faced the fact that one in three children is obese or overweight, and one in five suffers from a mental illness, with rates of depression higher than ever before. The list goes on.1

Share Our Strength and KaBOOM! realized that to make significant progress, we had to move beyond simple solutions to complex problems, and we had to answer anew, in a much bolder way, the most critical question of all: “What does success look like?”

A variety of factors combine to make this dynamic so pronounced. Some are external and macro, such as the challenges inherent in solving problems that affect people who are politically voiceless and the value our culture places on the immediate over the long term. Some are internal, like the failure of imagination or the fear of failure that leads us to the easier, less expensive solution rather than the solution that addresses the underlying problems. Some are both, like public pressure to keep nonprofit salaries and overhead low, and internal acquiescence that can constrain necessary and catalytic investments in people, technology, and systems. The result is often like filling a glass of water one drop at a time. Impact dissipates and evaporates, and the glass seems never to be more than half full. To solve big problems we need strategies sufficient to fill the whole glass.

Collective impact is one approach for solving problems, but one can use it to tackle a problem at a large or a small scale. If solving social problems is what we aspire to achieve, we need to set long-term, bold goals that acknowledge the magnitude of an issue. Defining a bold goal changes the game, leading to different decisions that set us on a new trajectory, which ultimately leads to greater impact, faster.

We recognize the pathology we describe because we once practiced it, making many of the same mistakes we now bring to the fore. We unintentionally shortchanged ourselves and those we meant to serve until time, experience, and perhaps some wisdom taught us to use a more strategic—and potentially effective—approach. Now we have embarked on a new course, one that focuses less on the transactions involved in the delivery of direct services and more on exerting the influence necessary to solve problems at the magnitude they exist. By ensuring lasting and significant change for all those affected by an issue, we are aiming for transformational change.

Share Our Strength and KaBOOM! aren’t the only organizations focused on transformational change. In 1996, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids embarked on a mission to reduce tobacco use among kids. The smoking rate among US youth dropped from 36.4 percent in 1997 to 18.1 percent in 2011.2 Malaria No More adopted the ambitious goal to end deaths from malaria in Africa by 2015. Since its work began, malaria deaths have decreased 33 percent in Africa.3 And from 1988 through the early 1990s, the Harvard Alcohol Project sought to introduce a new social norm in the United States: the “designated driver.” By 1991, 52 percent of Americans younger than 30 had served as a designated driver. In the three years prior to the start of the campaign there had been no change in the annual number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities; from 1988 to 1992 the nation saw a four-year decline of 24 percent, from 23,626 to 17,858.4

Though it may seem counterintuitive for a sector already struggling to support, sustain, and scale up its impact—our approach calls for nonprofits to embrace a much heavier lift. We must look beyond short-term achievements that please funders, staff, and stakeholders but yield only incremental change, and instead hold ourselves accountable for the harder-to-achieve long-term outcomes that will ultimately solve social problems.

Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)



Case Study: Happiness Santa Fe

November 4th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

In 2011, the United Nations passed a unanimous declaration urging member nations to place the “Pursuit of Happiness” rather than economic growth at the forefront of their development agendas, and to find ways to measure its success. Programs aimed at assessing well being, and coupling the results to formulate public policy, have spread across the globe from Bhutan to Brazil to the United Kingdom, and to Australia, Canada, and China.

According to Dr. Merle Lefkoff of the Center for Emergent Diplomacy, “Across the planet, people increasingly demand that we replace the current global, consumption-based economic system, measured by GDP, with a new system, called Gross National Happiness (GNH). GNH is based on a comprehensive list of conditions that lead to human happiness and well-being. They include measures of satisfaction with life, the health of citizens, community vitality, social support networks, access to education and to the arts, protection of the environment, and governance that reflects the desires of the people, among other life-enhancing indicators.”

Here in the U.S., the Seattle-based Happiness Initiative is leading a campaign for citizens to take a well being survey that has now been used in many communities around the country — including Santa Fe, New Mexico, our hometown.

The Center for Emergent Diplomacy asked us to help brand our city as a Happiness City. We were happy to do it! Knowing that the root of this movement goes way beyond measuring prosperity through material growth to include the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment, we came up with the branding line, “Happiness is the bottom line” with a graphic the flies the face of what we would normally equate with any “bottom line”. We made sure we didn’t use the the color of money or IBM blue to communicate this. Instead upbeat and and happy hues were used. The City of Santa Fe and the Center for Emergent Diplomacy ran with it and invited members of our community to take the Happiness Survey — coupled with a week of activities for Santa Feans to learn, experience and embrace what a Happiness City really means.

Got a Happiness City story you’d like to share?


Greendex: Consumer Choice and the Environment—A Worldwide Tracking Survey

October 29th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets


For the fourth time, National Geographic has partnered with GlobeScan to develop an international research approach to measure and monitor consumer progress toward environmentally sustainable consumption. The key objectives of this unique consumer tracking survey are to provide regular quantitative measures of consumer behavior and to promote sustainable consumption.

The survey was taken in 17 countries. The results are surprising, and each time National Geographic conducts this survey, the results shift.

The top-scoring consumers are in the developing economies of India, China, and Brazil, in descending order. Those in emerging economies continue to round out the top tier of the Greendex ranking, while the lowest scores are all earned by consumers in industrialized countries. American consumers’ behavior still ranks as the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of the study, followed by Canadian, Japanese, and French consumers.

If you click on the image, you will be taken to the interactive infographic on National Geographic’s page. This survey provides interesting insight to how to approach different sectors of consumer behavior across the globe.

Where does your country stand?

25K fans, Green claims, Composting the government

October 18th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets


Mind Over Markets’ News and Viewsletter

October issue

In this issue:

Interview with Carolyn Parrs by Concept Green

Growstone on Facebook: 25,000 Fans and growing

Top Stories in the News

MOM Question of the Month


Interview with Carolyn Parrs by Concept Green

Concept Green: Can you tell us more about “green” marketing?

Carolyn Parrs: Green marketing goes beyond the promotion of a product or service. It also addresses how a product is actually made — the ingredients used, the energy it takes to make or transport, the packaging, the production, and the processes. All of this is considered when crafting the story or message communicated in green marketing. This is why a green product or service can be a definite competitive advantage — especially if it incorporates what we call the “3 E’s” of green marketing.

CG: What are the “3 Es” of green marketing?

Read more


Growstone on Facebook

25,000 Fans Strong

Their performance and environmental story couldn’t be better. Growstone takes discarded glass out of New Mexico’s landfills and crushes it, mills it and bakes it into high-performance growing mediums. They use no water in the production of their product. They prevent destructive strip-mining, unlike their competition. And best of all, Growstones outperform them over and over again.

The challenge however was getting them in the hands of growers to experience this for themselves. Facebook was the perfect medium to do it. Before we sent a single post, we had a very definite objective. Get growers to go into their local store and ask for Growstones. There’s no marketing more powerful than customers asking for your brand, right?

To accomplish this, we set up a sampling program a head of time. So when a grower (or Facebook fan) asks where they can get Growstones, we sent them to their local hydroponic store for a sample. Along with this, we supported our retailers with tee shirts, stickers and even bottle openers with our famous Growstone American flag on them. In less than 18 months, our  Facebook page grew to over 25,000 fans — many of them asking for Growstones. Subsequently, our “Where to Buy” tab on our website became one of the most visited pages.

Today, Growstone’s Facebook page grows at about 400 new likes per week, largely due to our engagement practices with both our retailers and the end user, our beloved growers. What’s your social media strategy?


Top Stories in the News

7 Ways the Government Shutdown is Bad for Treehuggers

By Treehugger

The government shutdown went into effect at midnight as Congress failed to resolve budget disputes. Roughly 800,000 government employees are now furloughed, their paychecks delayed until a resolution is made. Among those staying home are 94 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 16,205 employees.

Read more…

Report Finds Critical Gaps Between Manufacturer and Consumer Priorities

By Sustainable Brands

Ninety percent of manufacturers agree that the environment is becoming more important, but 40 percent of consumers think manufacturers are not doing enough in terms of environmentally friendly manufacturing procedures or products, according to a study by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Read more


Four Leaders Share How to Manage Sustainability Metrics

By Triple Pundit

Just as baseball is a game of statistics, sustainability is a field of metrics. But, unlike the venerable stats by which fans track their favorite team’s performance, the metrics used to measure an organization’s non-financial performance present a churning assortment of evolving standards.

Read more…


MOM Question of the Month!

Every month MOM asks a question to our friends and fans. The answers will be featured in here and on our Facebook page. So here’s this month’s question:

How do we compost our government into something useful?

Leave your answer below in the comments section.


Sustainability Spotlight: A Conversation with Carolyn Parrs

October 7th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets


The following is an interview with Carolyn Parrs, CEO of Mind over Markets, by Concept Green for their sustainability spotlight series.

As part of our sustainability spotlight series, we are pleased to speak with Carolyn Parrs, CEO of Mind Over Markets and founder of Women Of Green, a blog and podcast dedicated to turning up the volume on the feminine voice in green.

Concept Green: Can you tell us more about “green” marketing?

Carolyn Parrs: Green marketing goes beyond the promotion of a product or service. It also addresses how a product is actually made — the ingredients used, the energy it takes to make or transport, the packaging, the production, and the processes. All of this is considered when crafting the story or message communicated in green marketing. This is why a green product or service can be a definite competitive advantage — especially if it incorporates what we call the “3 E’s” of green marketing.

CG: What are the “3 Es” of green marketing?

Parrs: The “3 Es” of green marketing stand for ecology, economy and efficacy. The first “E” is ecology. It’s what started this whole movement toward green products and sustainability in business. It’s the cornerstone of this industry however it’s not necessary the “message” a company should lead with. People rarely buy a product or service to “save the planet”. They buy because of the next 2 E’s.

So the second “E” is economy, and it is often the most important for many businesses. This is where they focus on how sustainability can effect their bottom line, and in turn save their customers money — from reducing costs of manufacturing and distribution through product innovation or design, to reinventing a whole product category. For instance, more Prius’ were sold when gas hit $4.00 a gallon than any other time before it.

The final “E” is efficacy, which is critically important to consumers. In the early days, many products in the marketplace called themselves green, but they didn’t work. Consumers tried them but never bought them again. This hurt the business. That is why efficacy is so important today for businesses in this space. First and foremost, your product or service has to work the same or better than a conventional one. It needs to not only to be green, but great. That’s why we spell green with 3 E’s at Mind Over Markets.

CG: What kinds of companies and brands do you work with?

Parrs: A full spectrum. From companies that are distinctly green through and through, to others that have a green initiative or product and want to effectively message in this emerging field. For instance, we work with “deep green” companies, those that have fully embedded sustainable and socially responsible practices throughout all aspects of their business. Positive Energy Solar is a great example of a deep green company we have worked with.

We also work with “medium green” companies that have green initiatives or are seeking to reach segments of consumers who value sustainability in one or more of its many facets. These companies have to look at their existing practices and values to figure out how to package their environmentally sustainable and socially responsible operations. A perfect example is PALNET, a wood pallet manufacturer. PALNET’S competitive green marketing advantage starts with how they make their product from scrap wood that would normally end up in a landfill. Their story gets even better — after they use and reuse their pallets, at the end of its lifecycle, they grind them into gardening mulch. A real cradle to cradle story. The marketing message that we helped them form was “PALNET: The greenest link in your supply chain”. This message helped them win significant contracts from companies seeking to increase their sustainability efforts through their supply chain.

The last kind of business on the green spectrum is the “light green” company. For them, it can often be a challenge to make the sustainable and socially responsible elements of their business visible without the threat of greenwashing. As a green marketer, my job is not only to help them craft their message, but guide the company into meaningful sustainability practices so that their marketing is authentic.

CG: How is social media changing the way you do business and bring attention to green products and brands?

Parrs: Social media is dramatically changing the way that businesses and organizations inform and engage customers. As an example of this, 18 months ago we launched a Facebook page for our client, Growstone, a horticulture growing medium made out of recycled glass. Our goal was to link their online strategy with offline action by growers and supporters. We wanted to encourage them to go into hydroponic stores and ask for Growstone. It worked. In a year and a half, we grew our tribe to 25,000 fans through a solid strategy based on engagement. Engagement is what social media is all about. It is so important that marketers and companies understand that the focus of their social media be their customer, not their product or service.

CG: You are well known as the founder of the Women Of Green blog and podcast. Why are the voices of women so critical in leading a transition towards sustainability?

Parrs: They don’t call it Mother Earth for nothing! Women Of Green started as a podcast. I wanted to amplify the voices and stories of women leading in this field. As a business and marketing coach, I heard story after story of women who were, in their own quiet way, creating change in their homes, communities and world. Women Of Green was my way of getting their stories and views out there. These stories need to be told. We women buy 80 percent of the consumer goods in the United States. That’s over 5 trillion dollars a year. We have the power in the marketplace to vote with our dollars. This collective power can change the world. I call it “disruptive buy-ology”.

Unfortunately in the business world, women only hold 15 percent of the executive-level positions. Changing the role of women in business is a big ship to turn, but with time and attention we can make it happen.

Carolyn will be a speaker on Friday, November 8 at Concept Green’s two-day Santa Fe Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Certified Sustainability Reporting Course held November 7-8, 2013. The course covers the G4, the latest version of the GRI guidelines, the world’s most widely used standard for sustainability reporting.

October in Austin: Two-day G4 GRI Certified Training course October 22-23 at The UT Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs.

November in Santa Fe: Two-day G4 GRI Certified Training course November 7-8 at Santa Fe Community Foundation HUB for Social Innovation.

Registration and additional information: Visit and select Austin or Santa Fe training courses, or call 619.246.1122 to register by phone.





Ad Age: Consumers don’t believe your green ad claims

September 16th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

Green Gauge Study Points to Much Confusion and 22% Jump in Doubters Over Last Five Years

Nearly a year after the Federal Trade Commission updated its guidelines for environmental advertising, consumers appear more confused or doubtful than ever about what green-marketing claims actually mean.

The percentage of consumers who say they don’t know if companies’ environmental claims are accurate doubled to 22% between 2008 and 2013 in GfK’s annual Green Gauge tracking survey. The percentage who said they don’t know how well businesses fulfill their responsibility to the environment tripled to 10% over the same period.

The GfK data jibes with other research such as that from Cone Communications earlier this year showing that while 40% of people think “environmentally friendly” means a product has a positive environmental impact, 22% think it means only a neutral impact and 9% think it means nothing.

Among consumers in the GfK survey who weren’t confused, more than 40% thought green claims were inaccurate, said Tim Kenyon, a senior consultant with the market research firm.

Consumer confusion may abate as the FTC enforces recommendations in its Green Guides, because a key theme is steering marketers toward making specific claims and away from generalities, such as putting a leaf on a package, according to Jacquelyn Ottman and David Mallen, co-authors of a new Advertising Age research report, “How to Make Credible Green Marketing Claims: What Marketers Need to Know About the Updated FTC Green Guides.”

Some marketers have ended up on the wrong side of recent rulings by the FTC and the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus for implying broad environmental benefits based on a very specific attribute, said Mr. Mallen, deputy director of the NAD.

“My prediction is we’re going to see a lot fewer babies, planets and daisies in green advertising as a result of these guides,” said Ms. Ottman, principal of New York-based environmental consulting firm J. Ottman Consulting. “We’re going to see a lot more specificity.”

Source: Advertising Age


Want the secret sauce to great green messaging?

September 5th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

Carolyn Parrs, Green Marketing Guru


Listen to Green Marketing veteran, Carolyn Parrs, reveal her secrets of 10 plus years in the biz! Click on the picture to hear the whole interview!