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Mainstreaming Green:

9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose

With Today's Consumer. Get ready people, it’s now hip (again) to care.

But even with all the hype, there are a number of

What took so long right? Thanks to more concerned

challenges and obstacles brands face when trying to

consumers, a dash of post-Katrina pondering, rising

sell purpose or ‘social responsibility’ to a mainstream

prices at the pump, dependence on coal and foreign

consumer. And in order for positive social change to

oil, Al Gore and the environment playing a leading

occur on a massive scale, corporations, entrepreneurs,

role at the Academy Awards, and an onslaught of

and marketers alike will need to become better

new product offerings; purpose-related products

educated and more aware of why these current and

and services have quickly beamed their way up on

prospective conscience consumers choose, buy, use,

the consumer’s radar.

and even dispose of purposeful products. You see, before we can build companies, brands, and products that inspire a better tomorrow, we must first take a closer look at what has and hasn’t worked up to now.


Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Fringe Freak To Eco Chic You may have seen the term LOHAS float across your desk in recent years (it stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability). LOHAS consumers are those who are passionate about the environment, sustainability, social issues, and health, and they typically make conscious purchasing decisions based on their social and cultural values. Or as David Brotherton, a Seattle consultant in corporate responsibility describes, “The people who used to drive the VW bus to the co-op are now driving the Volvo to Whole Foods.” Over the years, we’ve given all kinds of names (some more flattering than others) to the more purpose-driven consumer: tree huggers, hippies, bohemians, cultural creatives, latte activists, conscience consumers, crunchies, deep greens, cause consumers, eco-warriors, environmentalists, new progressives, and now Lohasians. Whatever the clever name or acronym du jour may be, businesses large and small are now paying closer to attention to this rapidly growing market, as this passionate and influential audience now makes up a $228.9 billion U.S. marketplace for goods and services, that include, but are not limited to: • • • • • • • •

Renewable and Alternative Energies Natural and Organic Products and Services Health and Wellness Eco-Tourism and Alternative Transportation Green and Sustainable Building Clean Technologies Organic and Recyclable Fashion Socially-Responsible Goods & Services

And while $228.9 billion dollars seems remarkable and is proof that this consumer psychographic has moved away from their fringe status of the past, there’s still a lot of work left to be done if the end goal is healthy social growth, not just bottom line income. Having the 2

Wal-Marts of the world pushing ‘organic’ is a great step forward, but in order for large-scale change to happen, socially-constructive companies must refine the way we approach ALL consumers when selling purpose. You see, we’re not just talking to those affluent, European sport wagon consumers at the upscale mall, but we’re now also chatting directly with those consumers filling up their mini-vans at the local Costco. So now’s the time for the difference-making entrepreneurs and brands of tomorrow to begin innovating and dialing in their brand voice. They must stop trying to only create for and sell to a market that mirrors themselves, as now a larger makeup of consumers are also thirsty for change. However, before we can inspire them to make purposeful buying decisions, we must first employ the same core marketing fundamentals that the great lifestyle brands of today have used when motivating large audiences. You know, create that aspirational magnet and leave that mirror behind.

Hurdles To Mass Adoption E For Effort, N For No Thanks

Businesses have been actively participating in the purposeful (or green) space for years. While there have been many products with great intentions and even the occasional breakthrough success, there have also been a string of bombs that have ultimately fueled widespread consumer reluctance to give new, more purposeful products a spin. Or in some cases, an unwillingness to even let them improve over time. Who could forget all of those recycled paper products before Seventh Generation hit their stride? Let’s see Charmin or sandpaper? Umm. How about those clunky fluorescent bulbs that flickered and flickered until they

Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d E For Effort, N For No Thanks

eventually put out the same level of brightness as a night light (Fortunately, things have vastly improved here. If you haven’t already, switch over to the ice-cream-swirl CFLs, they’re the real deal.). Or did you or any of your friends try out some of those unflattering organic fashion wearables circa 1992? Not exactly runway ready. Okay, we could go on and on here, but the point is, the product examples above unfortunately stunted the consumer’s desire to go sustainable. They left a bad taste in the shopper’s mouth, and as you know, once you get food poisoning, it makes it awfully hard to try that same dish again. But things have turned the corner in recent years, as the products have dramatically improved in functionality, quality, and style. And now that we have some inventory with mainstream appeal, how do we make the consumer feel firsthand the eco-benefit the product provides?

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Feel No Evil? One of the key drivers of changing consumer behavior has always been making the product or service connect on an emotional level. Make it personal. Make it relatable. You know, talk with your consumer, not at them. A giant obstacle purposeful brands need to overcome is their inability to connect with a mainstream audience that simply cannot see, feel, or even imagine the benefits that sustainable products deliver. There’s no denying issues such as Global Warming are complex and often difficult for most consumers to grasp. Because the majority of them can’t see or feel the immediate good their purchases are delivering (i.e. like reducing greenhouse gas emissions), it’s hard to get them to switch from their favorite products to a sustainable alternative (and we haven’t even mentioned price, quality, and availability).


So while the sustainability issues we face on this planet are extremely pressing, they still remain incredibly futuristic to the mainstream consumer. Largely in part because of the, “if it’s so important, why haven’t I noticed anything yet” attitude. It probably comes as little surprise that the products that have made the biggest strides thus far are those in which consumers can reap an immediate benefit; whether that’s better gas mileage with a hybrid vehicle or a reduced electric bill because of making the switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. However, there are thousands of other remarkable, eco-friendly product offerings on the shelf, it’s just that their effects cannot be felt or noticed so instantaneously. So how do we sell futuristic benefits? Perhaps we should take a look ‘outside of category’ for inspiration on how to effectively communicate to the masses. Take the diet industry for example. Do you think if we spent 1/10th of the time we spend marketing diets and nutritional supplements aimed at reducing our consumption of fatty foods as we did with reducing the consumption of our precious resources (oil, coal, water), could we make more meaningful progress? Or will it take even higher gasoline prices, more rising temperatures, more droughts, and more frequent black outs before the green category becomes more personal and more relatable? Remember the heart smart icon that slowly found its way onto every chain restaurant menu? You know the one, order this dish and it will reduce your risk at getting heart disease. Are we heading towards a future where we will strategically place earth icons next to the most eco-friendly options on every menu and price list across every industry? Perhaps we can elicit our desired behavioral change by dumbing it down for the everyday consumer? You know, use those marketing tactics that have successfully driven awareness for

Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Feel No Evil?

other causes. How about an “earth icon” shampoo, cut, and style at the salon. Anyone? Hopefully in the not-so-distant future, all products will just be inherently sustainable so consumers won’t have to wrestle with or think about how and what they’re purchasing. But for now unfortunately, it is what it is. So as we look to build sustainable new businesses, we not only need to create and inspire evangelists for whatever sustainable products were selling, but we also need to become brand evangelists for the bigger icon - - the earth itself.

Greenwashing: The Dirty Deceiving Little Secret With all the recent buzz surrounding the state of our environment, and corporations wearing the bulls eye for criticism, the more we hear the term greenwashing being thrown around. Greenwashing is a portmanteau of the words green and whitewashing. Environmentalists use it to describe the act of giving a positive public image (a thin coat of green paint) to environmentally unsound practices. Corporations of course claim they are promoting sustainable development and communicating that they have become greener and more environmentally responsible. Hey, if companies can sell more widgets by painting them green, then we’re going to see more green widgets in the market. The question is; Does green marketing contribute to the greening of consumer consciousness, or does it encourage corporate greenwashing? Well, probably a little of both. Examples of greenwashing can range from a supermarket giving you the option of paper or plastic to a big oil company funding studies to muddy the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change.


One greenwashing controversy in particular has recently surfaced its way on to countless environmental message boards on the Web. The instigator was an article earlier this year by The Economist titled, “Diesels Are The Smart Green Choice.” The words that ignited the firestorm of differing opinions: “The dirty little secret about hybrids is that their batteries and extensive use of aluminum parts make them costly to build in energy terms as well as financial terms. One life-cycle assessment claims that, from factory floor to scrap heap, a Prius consumes more energy even than a Hummer H3.” As you can imagine, the article generated spirited blogger responses from both sides of the issue and surfaced a number of studies comparing the lifetime costs related to total energy consumption of hybrid vs. non-hybrid vehicles. To no surprise, most of the studies had an agenda associated with them. The authors were free to manipulate the statistics in their favor and only reveal the answers that their side wants to see. Shocking Unfortunately, all of this greenwashing leads to mass skepticism with consumers. They don’t know what or who to believe anymore. Are these new products like Hybrids really ‘difference making’ and better for the environment than a diesel vehicle? Or are these car manufacturers just taking advantage of a white hot political or social opportunity to sell more cars? Let’s not forget that consumers have smart ad radar and a very low tolerance for bullshit. Google has quickly turned all of us into private investigators. The Internet has transformed us all into unregulated citizen

Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d Greenwashing: The Dirty Deceiving Little Secret

journalists. The successful companies of tomorrow must become more transparent with their customer base by talking openly and honestly about their practices. The ones that do this best will win and the ones that continue to hide behind their giant logos and avoid the hard questions will be exposed and ultimately rejected.

Perfect Doesn’t Make Practice Make no mistake, the entire future of the sustainability movement depends on consumer behaviors being modified. Sure, corporations will hopefully continue to invest huge dollars into making their products more sustainable, but since consumer demand drives corporations, the future of our planet rests heavily on the shoulders of Joe consumer. Yet even with numerous burning issues facing our environment, only a small portion of Joes are willing to change their consumption patterns and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. One of the reasons may be in how we’ve talked about ‘social responsibility’ in the past. The term responsible has a weird rub to it. If you’re positioning your brand as responsible does it also open it up to potential scrutiny about other aspects of your business? In addition, by telling a consumer that they’ll be practicing social responsibility by consuming your product, you’re also in effect wagging your finger at them and telling that person they’re irresponsible when they don’t. Here’s a thought. How about using the term socially-constructive in lieu of socially-responsible? For starters, it’s more accessible and doesn’t conjure up thoughts of irresponsibility and negativity that are detrimental to the larger movement. The truth is, we sometimes just have to recognize when someone is trying to do some good and they will hopefully strive to get better each and every day. But please, let’s not


stunt momentum and chastise someone for trying to be socially-constructive. Every little bit helps. The fact is we are indeed living in a greenvenient society, where the majority of people will only do “the good thing” if it’s made extra convenient for them. We need to recognize that a delicate balance exists between what is good for the environment and what is good for me. For example, if you were to take your wife’s Prius to the spray wash and wanted to empty the trash from the inside of the car (which includes some empty plastic water bottles), most of us would toss them in the trash can three feet from the car instead of taking them home to our recycling bin. Why? Because it’s simply more convenient that way. Now this is where it gets interesting, because an environmentalist that lives by an ‘eco-idealist’ code would probably point out flaw after flaw in this example, from: 1) why are you going to a spray wash that wastes ridiculous amounts of water in the first place?; to 2) why is your wife consuming bottled water instead of putting filtered water into a re-useable container?; to 3) we’ll give you points for driving a Prius, but we’re going to take away double points for your family also owning a gas-guzzling ’94 Chevy Suburban. When it comes down to it, the majority of us can easily be “out gooded” by a full-time “do gooder”, but what benefit comes from making people feel guilty about the way they live? In the long run it only hurts the cause. It seems that no one is safe from criticism in this complex web of purpose (just ask Al Gore who in light of everything he’s done to stimulate environmental awareness was recently attacked for his hefty home electric bill in Tennessee). If the end goal is to make sustainable living something consumers will aspire

Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d Perfect Doesn’t Make Practice

to and engage in on regular basis, we must stop preaching full-time perfection and begin applauding part-time cooperation.

Following Can Lead To Forgetting While the growing and greening marketplace has attracted throngs of new, passionate consumers, it has also motivated a different kind of following – copycat and unimaginative brand marketers. Before businesses can expect consumers to reach into their wallets and sign up for the next “it” product, they must first breakthrough the unbelievable ‘green noise’ and visual clutter that exists in the space. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to market a sports drink or a sports bra, all brands will have to bring some much-needed innovation to the table when establishing the look, tone, and feel for their products. Hint: the shelves at the store don’t need any more eco-friendly brands using an expected leaf icon, an unmemorable tagline, and an earth-toned color palette. Your product may be remarkable on the inside, but if you don’t have what it takes to excite and motivate consumers on the outside, your brand may soon be paving its own path to extinction. Just as it is with other industries, the brands that create a unique visual brand identity and voice wind up generating the most buzz, capture the most eyeballs, and generate the most cash register rings. With more and more eco-friendly products entering the mix, consumers are quickly becoming immune from all of the me too, environmentally-responsible messaging. They’ve also become aware of this new type of eco-poser brand that slyly tries to masquerade for something they are not – purposeful (remember greenwashing?). While it’s critical to make your consumer aware of your sustainable


benefits, it doesn’t necessarily need to be your lead communication strategy. To no surprise, one brand often cited for mainstream consumer crossover success, is biodegradable cleaning brand Method. Ranking No. 7 on Inc. Magazines 2006 list of the fastest-growing privately-held companies in the country, Method boasts an astounding three-year growth rate of 3,390.5%. Their talented team took a commodity household cleaner and built a unifying brand idea that extends through their products, their packaging design, their promotional materials, their corporate values, all the way down to their brilliant tagline, “People Against Dirty”. And they’ve done all of this while remaining very price competitive with the other leading household brands. What Method did was smart. Instead of focusing solely on the rational benefit of being environmentally responsible (eco-brand quicksand), they used sharp branding and marketing fundamentals to stir up the emotions of the mainstream consumer (btw: one of their founders was an ex ad agency guy). If you pick up a bottle of their all-purpose cleaner, the only purposeful call-out on the label is the word biodegradable in 8 point type. Sure, there are a lot of prominent brands in this space that have gotten “it”. Whole Foods, The Body Shop, and Patagonia come to mind. But who will develop the winning companies of tomorrow’s more purposeful marketplace? Let’s see, will it be those ‘green-only’ lifestyle zealots or those sharp minds that have played in the dirt on the other side of the fence and successfully built and launched high-profile lifestyle brands in other industries? The choice is simple really. If our world is to ever make significant progress with the adoption of new,

Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d Following Can Lead To Forgetting

remarkable eco-friendly products and services, we need to take a page from the Methods of the world. In order for new sustainable companies to succeed we must creatively sell environmental benefits by calling on those that have already memorized the playbook for tapping into consumer emotion and inspiring widespread adoption; whether that’s been for a cleaning product, a designer sneaker company, an imported beer, or a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Keys To Making The Perfect Play

Using Fame To Change The Game

These days, whether you’re scanning the rows of magazine covers at the grocery checkout or channel surfing on the tube, it’s pretty hard to avoid imagery of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt holding one of their adopted children. When Newsweek recently asked Angelina about her not-so-low-profile humanitarian aid efforts and countless visits to refugee camps, she responded, “If I can draw you in a little because I'm familiar, then that's great. Because I know that at the end you're not looking at me, you're looking at them." Funny, but she sounds remarkably similar to Paul Newman, one of Hollywood’s first conscience celebrities and one of the more famous social entrepreneurs on the planet. When Newman was asked to describe what he was doing with his line of Newman’s Own products, “shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common good”, he replied. Newman was definitely ahead of his time and remains an inspiration and role-model today. Over the last 23 years, the pioneering Newman has donated over $150 million in profits for educational and charitable purposes.


NORTH Mindmeld At North, we’ve been eavesdropping on the purposesful consumer and bigger sustainable business movement for years. While it’s taken a while for these new ideas to penetrate the mainstream mindset, the non-listeners from the past are now at least open-minded to hearing about the future. In this section, we highlight a few emerging companies and inspirational entrepreneurs that are bringing much-needed innovation to the market. What we like about some of the following ideas is that they show us just how wide-open the possibilities are in the purposesful space. Instead of following the map of those that came before them, these brands instead have set out to sail in uncharted waters.

Reward Them And They May Respond Here’s a thought, would people pay more attention to that all-too-familiar piece of POS hanging in their hotel bathroom if we gave them a decent discount on their over-priced 4-star room for saving both the hotel and the earth’s expensive resources? You know the message: “We are doing our part to preserve the environment and invite you to help us conserve water by using your towels more than once. Doing so will also reduce the amount of detergent waste that is recycled in our community. Please hang your towels up if you wish to participate in this water conservation program... if you choose not to participate, simply leave your towels on the floor.” Don’t you wish we lived in a proactive society, where consumers didn’t need incentive beyond “because it’s the right thing to do” in order to choose one thing over another? Well, we can all keep dreaming for that day to magically appear, or we can set out to do what some new, purposeful start ups are doing and offering up some nice value-adds in order to stimulate change and connect with more of a mainstream consumer.

How Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d Using Fame To Change The Game

Cont’d Reward Them And They May Respond

Celebrities and entertainers have always been closely tied with various causes; whether they’re strumming guitars for world hunger or telling jokes to raise money for Katrina victims (more on using entertainment to enlighten later). These days it seems more and more celebrities are becoming more known for “for what they’re passionate about” and less known for “who they’re dating”.

As much as the word ‘recycling’ surrounds us in our everyday lives, the participation rates remain relatively modest (in the 30-33% range nationwide). So the question remains, why don’t more people recycle? RecycleBank, which just launched in Philadelphia, may be on to something - actually rewarding people for throwing waste in the right receptacle. The more your household recycles, the more it earns (up to $35 RecycleBank Dollars a month). All RecycleBank dollars can be redeemed at one of 100 national and local participating retailers (the likes of Starbucks, Petco, and Whole Foods have already jumped aboard). So far so good, as recycling rates in one Philly neighborhood have already jumped from 30% to 90%. (

Take this year’s Academy Awards. Even when the usual suspects used their airtime to push environmental awareness (Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Melissa Etheridge), it actually didn’t come off as making a forced statement (like a Susan Sarandon moment did). It seems the passionate pleas from this years Oscar’s were delivered in a much more approachable manner and that always makes it easier to digest. Also, the show went green behind the scenes; they used recycled paper, did an energy audit for the Kodak Theater, and even served organic food at the Governor’s Ball. Hey, whether it’s Scarlett Johansson filling up her Prius hatchback with organic food and beauty products, Maggie Gyllenhaal announcing she’s using organic cloth diapers on her new baby girl, Oprah touting the benefits of energy saving light bulbs on her show, or Entourage star Adrian Grenier badging the fact that he’s using recycled denim to insulate the walls of his Brooklyn home; there’s no denying the power and influence celebrities wield in generating and spreading purposeful change. Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame and his company Weapons of Mass Entertainment has just teamed up with Greenpeace on an initiative which is focused on dreaming up new ways to mix media, art and celebrity with social activism. "If you can imagine Andy Warhol's Factory with Greenpeace in it and me in it," Stewart told 8

How about paying $20 for a magazine subscription and in turn having that same twenty bucks then go to the charity of your choice? That’s precisely the offer behind Good Magazine, one of the latest page flippers aiming to champion change. Good, which gives you the choice of selecting between 12 different causes (from Millennium Promise to Creative Commons to World Wildlife Fund) is the brainchild of its Founder Ben Goldhirsh. Not sure if giving away 100% of your profits is a sustainable revenue model for a media company (which also includes a film division called Reason Pictures), but it’s certainly a transformative idea. When asked whom his magazine is for, the ambitious Goldhirsh responds, “We’re selling this to people who we think give a damn.” (

How Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d Using Fame To Change The Game

Cont’d Reward Them And They May Respond

Reuters. “It is a hot house, a think tank." Sounds lofty, not sure if it will be produce any number one hits, but let’s give it a chance to lift off before we pop its balloon. For even more dish on how celebrities are using their fame to change the game, check out the eco-celebrity gossip blog

It would sure seem like a tall order to play in the same purposesful sandbox as upscale, active wear brand Patagonia (Pata-gucci for those of you in-the-know), but don’t tell that to Portland-based, active wear newbie Nau. Like the walk and talk Patagonia and its inspirational CEO Yvon Chouinard have been delivering for years, Nau is also blending beauty, performance, and sustainability into all of its products (all are made of recycled material and recyclable themselves). In hopes of luring more consumers into its new retail home, Nau will offer up 10% discount to those customers that place their orders from in-store kiosks. The in-store Web kiosks are meant to reduce each store’s ecological footprint, operating costs, and energy consumption. (

With all of the celebrities jumping into the game, will there be some less-than-genuine cause opportunists out there? Of course there are, but Ed Begley Jr., one of the founding fathers of green in Tinseltown, sums it up best when half-joking about Hollywood’s involvement in the movement towards a sustainable future, "there are some insincere people in this community who may have latched onto the environment because Africa was already taken, but,” he says, “even if you're only into this cause for a week, at least you're doing something positive for that week." The truth is things need to change and if the folks living under the Hollywood sign want to use their visibility and money to create a more sustainable future, let’s applaud them. And maybe just maybe, they’ll stop backing purposeless ventures or theme restaurants like the Fashion Café and Planet Hollywood. Planet Hollywood wasn’t a bad thought, it was just that the concept had the wrong intentions. Why not really make it about the planet, Hollywood? Just imagine a state-of-the-art restaurant that was 100% sustainable, that served organic, locally-grown food, donated 100% of their profits to renewable energy research, and instead of decorating the menus and walls with movie posters and props, instead used that real estate to educate consumers on the state of our planet and encouraged them to give a damn. Now that’s a concept worth backing Arnie!


While issues surrounding the planet and those in need are sometimes tough to make accessible at the retail level, a 30-year-old entrepreneur by the name of Blake Mycoskie figured it out by keeping it simple. If you buy a pair of his Toms Shoes at around $40/pair, Toms will also gift a pair to a deserving youngster in an impoverished country. Mycoskie, who got the idea for Toms (which btw stands for Shoes for Tomorrow), while traveling in Argentina, always thought he’d spend the first half of his life making money and the second half of his life giving it away. With Toms he’s exceeded his expectations, as he stumbled upon an idea that is as equally purposesful as it is profitable.

How Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Old Dogs Trying New Tricks

Cont’d Reward Them And They May Respond

One way in which many established brands have been dipping their feet in to the new purposeful pond, is by making modifications to their existing products. Instead of completely re-structuring or re-positioning their entire company as sustainable overnight (next to impossible), many well-known heavy hitters have recently made some big strides when it comes to speaking to the more purposeful consumer.

And the message of the brand seems to be working, Mycoskie has just bagged distribution deals at Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s, and plans to begin selling in Australia, Japan, and Western Europe this summer. (

Timberland, which has routinely been ahead of their competition in practicing corporate responsibility, just updated the labeling on its footwear boxes to trumpet their environmental responsibility in a fresh, engaging manner. Packaging, which is often an overlooked communication vehicle, can open up a number of excellent branding opportunities. By taking the lead from the CPG industry, they transformed the traditional nutritional label into a communication that gives consumers information about the shoes they are purchasing; from where it was manufactured, to how it was produced, to its overall impact on the environment, which includes the amount of energy they used from renewable resources. “From the inside out, our new packaging tells the story of who we are as a brand and conveys our commitment to make it better,” explained Tracy Stokes, Timberland’s Senior Director of Global Brand Management. “The goal is to reduce Timberland's environmental impact while providing consumers with new information to help guide them in the purchase process, while at the same time, inspiring them to make their own positive impact," she added. Another noteworthy example of a big brand weaving responsibility into their product offering is giant UK retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S). “Customers want good value, but they care more than ever how food and 10

These brands are at least trying to break through by taking a different approach, but are we really on the cusp of trading out our mileage cards for carrying around purposesful shopping cards? ( Who knows, but if some of these incentive efforts are able to speak more effectively to the mainstream, the “reward loyalty” idea of those cards can’t be far behind. Oh, and one last thought. Before you hospitality marketers out there go running with the idea mentioned at the top of this section, you may want to spend some additional hours educating your housekeeping staff on your towel program. Because it seems every time you try to do the “right thing’ by not throwing your towel on the floor, they replace your used, hung up towel with a fresh one anyway.

How Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d Old Dogs Trying New Tricks

clothing products are made,” says M&S Chief Exec Stuart Rose. Well, by simply listening to their customer, M&S has achieved some good. They recently launched their Look Behind The Label program, which does a nice job of educating shoppers about its Fairtrade food and clothing products. Whether it’s Nike creating less waste and using less energy to manufacture their Considered line of shoes or Levi’s selling an eco line of jeans using 100% organic cotton (they also include recycled buttons, rivets and zippers), we need to encourage these efforts of bringing responsibility to retail. Brands like Timberland, M&S, Nike, and Levi’s have huge followings and other brands (big and small) should follow their leads. However, the passionate must remain patient. We can’t make “all or nothing” demands on these large companies. We must hail these transparent efforts and recognize their importance in inspiring consumers, other brands, and entrepreneurs to shift their current thought processes.

Change Agents Of Tomorrow Sure the food, beverage, personal care, and clothing markets have made some of the biggest splashes (organic, nontoxic, free-range, fairtrade, etc.) in the sustainable product space, but there have also been some game-changing entrepreneurial efforts using new angles that have been popping up more frequently. Okay, so you’re flying into LA for a three-day weekend and need to line up a rent-a-car. Who do you call? Hertz? Budget? Avis? Why not try EV Rentals, the first U.S. rental car company whose entire fleet consists of hybrids. Rentals run from $39/day to $215/week. If you’re not sold, what if we told you that hybrid vehicles qualify for the carpool lane on those crowded California freeways, even when you’re the only one in the car. Airport locations include; LAX, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

Championing Change From Within It used to be that brands would promote sociallyconstructive or environmentally-friendly efforts within their human resources department with the sole purpose of making an impression on current or prospective employees. However, now those efforts are more and more frequently aimed at gaining the support of environmentalist groups and for rubbing off on their discriminating customers. Several big corporations and their highly visible leaders after being pushed towards more sustainable practices by various activists for years, are now becoming role models for change. One would never think of mentioning Wal-Mart in the same breath with the Whole Foods of the world, but to their credit the Bentonville behemoth has made significant steps to evangelize purpose from 11

EV Rental's mission is “to provide the most technologically advanced environmental vehicles to the general public as soon as they are available, to educate the public and raise the awareness of the benefits of driving clean-fuel cars, and create a market for clean car technology". The company claims to have prevented more than 100 tons of air pollution and to have passed on more than one million dollars in fuel cost savings to its customers. Now why hasn’t this gone worldwide yet? We think it’s only a matter of time. ( Anyone that leads with a headline that reads, “Changing The World One Story At A Time”, must be prepared to back it up. Participant Productions Founder Jeff Skoll (former president and employee #1 at online powerhouse eBay) has backed up

How Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d Championing Change From Within

Cont’d Change Agents Of Tomorrow

within. They’ve been working with Conservation International to help shape ambitious goals for slicing and dicing their total energy consumption. Wal-Mart, which is the largest private purchaser of electricity in the U.S., has put forth an aggressive plan to reduce energy demands in all of its facilities by 30% in the next ten years.

that statement and then some since assembling an all-star team of entertainment executives back in 2004. Together his team has built an environment to ‘foster storytelling that engages the audience, generates awareness of topical and interesting issues and inspires individuals to take action.’

Speaking of Whole Foods, they’ve just become the biggest corporate user of wind power in the country. They inked a two-year contract with Renewable Choice Energy to purchase 458,000 megawatt-hours of wind energy credits. That’s enough to cover energy use for all of its stores, bakeries, distribution centers, regional offices, and corporate headquarters in Austin. This effort has also led to a consumer-facing promotional partnership, where customers can purchase $15 wind power cards (basically renewable energy credits) right along with their yoga mag and Burt’s Bees lip balm at check out. “Right now, the main benefit is public relations," said Andrew Aulisi, Senior Associate at the nonprofit World Resources Institute. “For a company like Whole Foods, which has a particular kind of clientele, I can imagine this is an important way they relate to their customers." On the technology front, both Nokia and Dell are leading the way for doing away with toxic chemicals and have set measures for eliminating polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other harmful substances from their current and future product lines. And companies like Clif Bar and Google are offering their employees $5,000 towards the purchase of a hybrid. Clif Bar is even offering $2,500 toward the lease of a vehicle that obtains a partial zero emissions vehicle emissions rating of at least 45 mpg. You can read about more future-looking companies participation in these types of vehicle programs at 12

Even if you’re not familiar with Participant as a brand name, you’ve surely heard of some of the titles coming out of their offices in the last three years: Fast Food Nation, Murderball, Syriana, And Good Night, And Good Luck, as well as last year’s global warming eye-opener, An Inconvenient Truth. As we know, films have the power to move and amass quite a following. With that big of an audience in tow, we look forward to Participant launching even more brand initiatives aimed around inspiring consumer action. ( Lastly, we have to mention this category-shifting, entrepreneurial idea coming out of the Netherlands. Enviu, an international nonprofit organization for young entrepreneurs, is working together with an architectural firm to create a truly Sustainable Dance Club. At the core of the idea is an energy-generating dance floor that will offset the club’s energy consumption. In addition, the toilets will flush with rainwater, the walls will change color as reaction to temperature changes, and they’ll have a rooftop garden.

If you were having trouble thinking outside the expected box and making sustainability attractive and cost-effective, you may just want to order a glass of what they’re drinking over in Rotterdam. This is cool. (

How Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d Championing Change From Within

Want to talk about other organizations with loyal followings, even religious groups have joined the ecological movement. The national organization Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life is now sponsoring a drive to install efficient compact-florescent light bulbs. No Joke here, their pitch: “How Many Jews Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?” Mazal Tov! In addition, we would be doing this section a disservice if we didn’t mention the likes of Buffet, Gates, Branson, Case, and Doerr when talking about charismatic leaders championing change by donning the hat of a Cause Capitalist. While all these men are well-known and respected for devoting a large chunk of their time and money to philanthropic causes, they’ve recently stepped up their efforts to bring an even greater sense of urgency to the purposeful movement. Branson, who also heads up Virgin Unite (, Virgin's independent charitable arm designed to drive entrepreneurial approaches to social and environmental issues, says that he’ll contribute an estimated $3 billion in personal profits over the next 10 years to develop energy sources that do not contribute to global warming. “Our generation has inherited an incredibly beautiful world from our parents and they from their parents,” said the maverick entrepreneur. “It is in our hands whether our children and their children inherit the same world. We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment.” In addition, Branson announced earlier in the year that he’s offering a $25 million prize for scientists who find a way to help save the planet from the effects of climate change by removing at least a billion tons of carbon dioxide a year from the Earth's atmosphere.


Case, on the other hand is looking to revolutionize the health and wellness industry by trading out his familiar “you’ve got mail” days for the more empowering “you’re in control” rallying cry., using the collective “social wisdom” of its users, offers more than 125 free tools and online services that help people live healthier – from losing weight to determining what an ailment might be to tracking one’s overall health progress. “ is not just another health site – we are working to build the online destination where you can ‘take action’ to improve your health or your family’s health. It’s time to use the power of the Internet to reform health care with a ‘people-powered’ approach to health - giving parents, patients, and caregivers all the tools they need to manage their health care needs and live healthier lives,” said Case. The encouraging signs coming out of all of this, it seems as if the corporate world, entrepreneurs, and environmentalists are now teaming up to work constructively together. Everyone’s coming around to the idea that business has the innovation chops and entrepreneurial flair to solve problems in ways that government regulation will never match. The more these companies, investors, and business leaders tackle issues like sustainability and health care, the more benefit they will ultimately see from a customer relation’s perspective, from profit potential, and from moving that purposeful needle. However, we must be realistic. These issues are not going to be solved, cured, or reversed by a handful of thoughtful billionaires. It’s going to take our collective thinking and effort to right this (mother) ship.

Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Enlighten With Entertainment Let’s see, first there was Live Aid in 1985, which opened the world’s eyes to the famine issues in Africa, then Willie Nelson and John Cougar Mellencamp organized Farm Aid to raise awareness and money for family farmers. Comic Relief, A Tribute To Heroes benefit after the attacks on 9/11, the benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims, Live 8, the list goes on and on. Whatever the issue, artists and entertainers have a long history of putting on benefit concerts or charitable events for causes that matter to them. By joining forces with other like-minded entertainers, these events have always been a powerful tool for drawing attention to an immediate humanitarian crisis and generating massive awareness for a specific cause. While many of these efforts seem to garner a lot of media hype, attract A-list talents, and raise significant funds, are they mere causal marketing “one-offs” that consumers buy, listen, and discard or are they powerful vehicles for establishing a commitment to long-term change? There’s no question that entertainers and musicians have passionate and loyal followings and can attract huge crowds, but it seems that in order to inspire massive change, it will clearly take bringing more innovation and new thinking to the plug and play “concert for a cause” formula. In recent years, there have been a few new spins on the old concept. Boost Mobile RockCorps is concept that makes the consumer do their part before the actual concert. In order to get a ticket to the show, you must first put in at least four hours of volunteering in your community. This is a great way to generate awareness and ignite consumer involvement prior to the main event, rather than just handing the concert goer some educational literature once they’re in the gate (by that


time they’re only focused on the entertainment – right message, wrong time). Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson has inspired a slew of artists from the Dixie Chicks to Pearl Jam to Cold Play as well as music festivals like Bonnaroo to begin putting on more eco-friendly shows. Johnson who put on one of the first carbon-neutral tours, teamed up with other businesses to donate a portion of his tour sales to environmental causes, as he teamed up with the organization 1% For The Planet. The tour also ran all of their buses and trucks on bio-diesel fuel. Now more and more artists seem to be joining the movement to reduce their carbon footprint and bring attention to the bigger issue of climate change. This summer, all eyes (and ears) will be on Live Earth – The Concerts For A Climate In Crisis. This revolutionary effort hopes to inspire two billion sets of eyeballs with its motivating message. Live Earth, which takes center stage on 7/7/07, will feature seven separate concerts on all seven continents (not sure who’s getting the Antarctica gig) and is being spearheaded by The Alliance For Climate Protection and you guessed it, its chair and former veep, Al Gore. "We have to get the message of urgency and hope out," Gore expressed. "In order to solve the climate crisis, we have to reach billions of people. The climate crisis will only be stopped by an unprecedented and sustained global movement." The artists themselves (over 100 committed at the time of this writing), are also psyched up for the worldwide event being produced by Control Room (same crew responsible for bringing the world Live 8 on AOL). Tom Chaplin, lead singer of the band Keane was the first to sign up to

Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Enlighten With Entertainment

participate. “This is something we feel very strongly about so we want to help get this message to as many people as possible. The idea of these concerts is to create a tipping-point, a trigger to start a whole new way of thinking about our relationship with the world,” said Chaplin.

9 Rules To Live By 1. Innovate Your Approach. From what you’re offering to how you’re selling it, to where you’re saying it. Hey, if you’re number one tactic for creating mainstream awareness and action in this space is sending street teams out to organic grocery stores with clip boards and free t-shirts, please go back to the whiteboard and push yourself to innovate.

Here’s to tipping, triggering AND transforming…

Making Purpose A Natural Reflex Wikipedia describes a reflex action or reflex as a biological control system linking stimulus to response. Reflexes can be built-in or learned. They define a conditioned reflex as involving the modification of a reflex action in response to experience (learning). A stimulus that produces a simple reflex response becomes linked with another, possibly unrelated, stimulus. For example, a dog may salivate (a reflex action) when it sees its owner remove a can-opener from a drawer because it has learned to associate that stimulus with the stimulus of being fed. Okay, where are we going? In order to make purposeful consumption a natural consumer reflex, we must first put out the necessary stimulus in bulk (accessible products and approachable messaging). Changing hearts, minds, and consumer behavior is no easy to task. Communicating a sense of urgency at the same time is even harder. In order to make the mainstream herd care enough to alter their lifestyle, the entrepreneurs and marketers of tomorrow must not rely on others to do the heavy lifting. If we all unite and use our minds, products, money, and messaging to awaken and stimulate consumer consciousness, we can begin to create that natural reflex; and shift the scales in the planet’s favor at the same time.


2. Feed The Early Birds. We’ve talked a lot about how to the target the mainstream consumer, but don’t forget to the use the influential circles of your early adopters (including appropriate celebs). Where and when appropriate, these tastemakers still have huge pull and can be extremely beneficial in changing the consumption behaviors of the bigger flock. 3. Quit Hatin’. We can’t express this enough. Stop attacking people that are a lighter shade of green than you. Consumers don’t respond well to criticism. Quit preaching and expecting perfection. Highlight the good they have the ability to make, not the bad they will cause by not participating. 4. Exercise Patience. This is a courtship, not a one-night stand. First, get them to be more comfortable with the process of thinking constructively about their shopping choices. Sure, we’d like to make it Earth Day everyday, but this is going to take some time to sink in.

Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

Cont’d 9 Rules To Live By

5. Psst. Listen Closely. Before you can motivate your consumer into action, you must understand their emotional and rational drivers. By listening to them and offering up better ways for them to collaborate with you (customer feedback forums, message boards, blogs, social networking communities), you will have a better idea for how to deliver meaningful messaging that gets results. 6. Make An Offer They Can’t Refuse. Many consumers still need to see the price/quality value relationship swing in their favor before they jump onboard. Not only do you have to convince this crowd that consuming your product does something worthy, but you have to show them it’s worth it as well (yep, rewarding them helps). 7. Make It Personal Not Planetary. We said it earlier – make it personal, make it relatable, make it simple. We know consumers respond to more tangible connections – whether you relate consumption to their health or to their monthly energy bills. Don’t overwhelm them. Not everyone has a PhD in Environmental Sciences. If your call to action is stating less and less about how the consumer can benefit and more like an internal press release, hit the delete button. 8. Don’t Wait. Lead. Nothing can hurt credibility with consumers more than a company that won’t take proactive measures to become more purposesful. So instead of waiting for someone to come down on you (they will, it’s only a matter of time), step outside of your comfort zone and begin developing alternative methods, products, and programs that will be viewed in a positive light.

9. Encourage Participation. Let your consumers know that they’re in control and they can truly affect change on their own. No one wants to feel overwhelmed and helpless. (a greenish Daily Candy) does an excellent job of this with their daily “Bang For The Bite” Their facts are fun and easy to digest: “If 10,000 Biters skip the airplane bathroom, we’ll avert the CO2 caused by one Biter flying roundtrip between LA & NYC about 15 times.” Sign up and give it a spin.

If you’re a forward-thinking entrepreneur that is planning to launch a socially-constructive brand or have a purposeful venture in need of penetrating the mainstream, please contact a North Partner and we’ll set up some time to talk shop. The best way to get a hold of a North Partner is by sending a short email introduction to us at North Venture Partners is a Los Angeles and San Francisco based strategic consulting and investment firm that works with early-stage, socially-constructive ventures. The North team includes a diverse collection of venture development, financial advisory, and brand marketing change agents: we work with early-stage ventures to deliver the planning and execution needed to connect with consumers and ultimately with investors.


Mainstreaming Green: 9 Rules For Popularizing Purpose With Today's Consumer.

© 2007 North Venture Partners, LLC

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