Recently the New York Times ran two disturbing articles on the same day — Earth Day. One headline said “Green Products Lose Their Allure“. The other stated that consumer confidence was at its lowest level in years and economic depression has returned with an amazing 75% thinking our economic environment is bad and getting worse.
Obviously, these two articles have a lot in common. Green sales historically rise in good economic times and can be one of the first to suffer when money is tight. But I think there is another reason just as fundamental. Most green communications, from products to energy efficiency, have been told as an environmental story and not as an economic or health story.
Many mainstream people still think of green as a sacrifice you have to make to be a better citizen of the earth. They see it much like they see contributing to a charity. Something worthwhile — as long as your have the money.
Think energy efficiency. I hear it spoken about in term of carbon offset and alternative fuels instead of its direct correlation to the bottom line. I even hear people saying, “I know it saves me money in the long run, but I’m running for my life right now.” That’s a message all of us in the green world need to hear and understand.
Since this blog began, we have been preaching a gospel of environmental self interest. Urging marketers to tell their green story in human terms. To stop employing polar bears and icebergs to tell the story, but to simply communicate that better products are better for many reasons.
Just one year after the Gulf Oil Spill, a majority is actually in favor of drilling in the gulf again. It’s soon to be $5.00 gas at the pumps that are driving those decisions. And as soon as Japan fades from our short attention span, nuclear reactors will be on the table again.
What’s really sad is that the decline in mainstream green products and disappointing sales will further deteriorate the green world until it’s back to those Deep Green 19% who always were and always will be. That won’t help change the world or the marketplace.
Too bad something so worthwhile was not given the true intelligence and understanding it needed to succeed. Too bad marketers understood so little about presenting value propositions alongside values propositions. Too bad they didn’t employ green aware people to craft a message that would create sustainable motivation. Maybe then we could have made the green world about making sense, and dollars at the same time.