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Gail Nickel-Kailing, managing director of Business Strategies Etc.

Shades of Green

By Gail Nickel-Kailing

About Gail

A business adviser and problem solver, Gail is managing director of Business Strategies Etc., which provides strategic marketing and business planning services and manages the execution of marketing communications tactics that help companies:
• Define their sustainability strategies,
• Deliver a positive, sustainable image,
• Gain credibility, trust and respect, and
• Measure the results of their green initiatives and actions.

Gail is a nationally recognized speaker on a wide range of subjects and brings enthusiasm and a unique blend of experience to the podium. As an industry analyst and journalist contributing to publications in the United States, Canada, India and Brazil, she has covered a number of beats, particularly sustainability in printing and mailing, print on demand, variable data printing and direct mail.

Fish Where the Fish Are...and Use the Right Bait

“Talking green” with your customers means understanding their businesses and their needs. Your sustainability strategies should not be focused on just your company; you should be looking for prospects that will resonate with your values and principles.

A fisherman will tell you that you won’t catch a single fish if you don’t go where the fish are—and use the right bait.

The Opportunity

There are five general market sectors that are focused on “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability” (LOHAS) and offer goods and services to consumers that have a sense of environmental and social responsibility—and incorporate those values into their purchases.

These prospects want their promotional materials to reflect their commitment to sustainability. So fish where the fish are.

According to the Natural Marketing Institute, sales of goods and services into the LOHAS market is about $290 billion a year. How does that break down?

• $117 billion: Personal Health – natural/organic food, personal care, vitamins and supplements, etc.

• $100 billion: Green Building – certified homes, Energy Star appliances, etc.

• $20 billion: Alternative Transportation – hybrids, diesel vehicles, electric vehicles, car sharing, etc.

• $42 billion: Eco-tourism – includes travel spent on excursions in nature.

• $10 billion: Natural Lifestyles – home furnishings, apparel, etc.

• $1 billion: Alternative Energy – renewable power

The Target Audience

Most Fortune 100 companies have C-level sustainability staff and have embedded a focus on sustainability throughout their organizations. It has become everyone’s responsibility to consider the environmental and social impacts of their products and operations. And, most have made headway in at least understanding, if not reducing, their environmental footprints.

Despite the increasing influence of sustainability officers, the CMO is still very much at the heart of the strategy when it comes to the environment. Keep talking to the marketing department while you reach out to the sustainability staff.

The effect is that the level of dialogue has become exponentially more sophisticated. In the past, the discussion may have focused on why recycled or sustainably certified papers mattered. Now, your customers and prospects are exploring alternative sources.

For example, their customers are choosing whether they want a cruelty-free personal care product or a personal care product packaged in biodegradable materials.

Living greener is on most consumers’ radar screens. While it’s true that the level of commitment and intensity of their actions are based on individual lifestyles, most consumers are involved in the LOHAS marketplace in some way.

The Message

Both consumers and corporations still need a lot of help understanding the tradeoffs available. Consumers are very sensitive to a disconnect between glossy ad campaigns and tangible operating practices when they determine whether a brand is sustainable. The top characteristics consumer use to define sustainability are product design, packaging and whether the product is produced locally and/or sold by a locally based business.

How can you help your customers deliver the right message to the LOHAS marketplace?

Industry Centers:



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Most Recent Comments:
PrintLeadership - Posted on April 05, 2011
Nicely put, Gail. Too bad fish don't read. ;-)
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Archived Comments:
PrintLeadership - Posted on April 05, 2011
Nicely put, Gail. Too bad fish don't read. ;-)