July 27, 2008
One of the world's most amazing green roof buildings is the Acros Fukuoka located in Fukuoka City, Japan. Stunning garden terraces up to 60m from the ground with 35,000 plants representing 76 species.
July 26, 2008
It's worth reading the story on their website...
“People find a purpose in their life and they pursue it, because it makes sense. That’s how invention happens,” recalls Ann DeLaVergne, founder of ecoEnvelopes. It was 2002 and while sorting the mail, she noticed an envelope with a request to, “Reuse this envelope.” Unfortunately, there was no easy way to do that.
As a former organic farmer and bee keeper who cared about the environmental, Ann already saved large envelopes to send out again—despite the complex camouflage they needed to be mailed a second time. “There should be an easier way to reuse envelopes,” she thought. “Why not one envelope instead of two?”
Combining her design experience and background in fine arts, Ann started making prototypes by hand at her kitchen table. The new eco friendly envelopes she came up with were functional, practical, and most importantly, helped the environment.
Ann used her sewing machine to speed up the process of making perforations in paper to make it easy to open her ecoEnvelopes. Her first mailing was ten envelopes she sent to friends across the country. Every one of them came back and she says with nostalgia, “I thought I was done. I mailed them, they came back….I was done,” she recalls. “No. That was the start. I made envelopes from scratch with my sewing machine for the next two years!”
In the next couple years, Ann devoted herself to perfecting ecoEnvelopes. She received grants from the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance and the Eileen Fisher Foundation and won supporter after supporter, including the former CEO of one of the largest envelope manufacturers in the U.S. Soon, Ann was in Washington meeting with the US Postal Service and key people in the industry. “It became a community whose goal was to help the environment, we were working on something that could make a significant difference,” she recalls.
Her timing was perfect. With consumers driving demand for environmentally friendly products, corporations greening their operations and the USPS supporting green initiatives, it was clear that ecoEnvelopes was an idea whose time had come.
July 20, 2008
So, you can imagine how envious I was when I read an article on how Dutch ING Bank, in partnership with online real estate company iBlue, is trying to solve the problem. The initiative is called "WoonWaarUWilt " ("LiveWhereYouWant") and it the lets clients make an offer on houses that aren't on the market, but that they'd love to own. Potential buyers fill in an online form including their dream home's address and the initial offer they're willing to make. A mortgage consultant also determines whether the buyers would be able to finance the purchase. The bank and iBlue put together a preliminary offer that is sent to the property's current owners enquiring as to whether they'd consider selling. Making an offer is free for clients, but if the owners are interested in pursuing the offer, iBlue acts as the buyer's agent and charges a commission once the deal is done.
Finally, an innovative idea (in the sometimes painful process) of closing the deal on the ideal house.
July 19, 2008
Small is Good Again - The Emergence of Eco-Brands
I have been on the road traveling to different markets reporting on the state of environmental branding and packaging, and espousing its benefits. As CEO of Cornerstone Strategic Branding in New York and Sao Paulo, Brazil, I have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of package goods brands competing in international markets such as the United States, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa, United Kingdom, South Korea, Pakistan, and many, many others. My company has been in business for 18 years and during that time I have secured and worked with clients in over 23 countries including those in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
A topic of continuing interest to me and to an increasing number of my clients are the trends to increased use of environmentally friendly packaging and the introduction of a new class of brands which I call “Eco-Brands”. With the help of some of my colleagues at CSB, I have researched these trends extensively and the result is a comprehensive presentation on the subject with a global perspective.
I discovered that there is a lot more activity going on in the use of environmentally friendly packaging than what we see here in the U.S. What was even more striking is the emergence of this new class of brands called Eco Brands.
These are brands which from the moment of origin are created with a mission, a brand positioning and “value set” that clearly focus the brand on behaving in a way that is protective of the planet. There are many ways that Eco Brands achieve this with their packaging, in addition to how they also reflect this in their product and everything that they do.
Some of these brands only use recycled materials in their packaging such as recycled/post consumer paperboard, recycled PET plastic resin (RPET), recycled glass, etc. Some of these brands use these materials in combination with new materials called bio- resins made from sustainable plant materials such as corn and cane sugar starches that replace traditional petroleum based resins, made from a non- renewable resource.
Some reduce their use of these materials altogether and eliminate complete “layers” of packaging to become more environmentally friendly, while reducing costs. Others do all this and also print their packaging using water and/or vegetable based inks with very low VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). These inks can replace traditional inks formulated with environmentally dangerous solvents high in VOC content.
The most interesting thing I learned about these Eco Brands is that some of these brands have been around for a while and how, in a very short period of time, have grown in sales significantly. Take for example the brand Burt’s Bees. Their website defines the brand ‘s mission as follows: “We create natural earth- friendly personal care products formulated to help you maximize your well being and that of the world around you”. The intriguing thing about this brand is that it has been around since 1984 and as recently as 2003 had only $8 million in sales. Just 5 years later, what do you think their sales are? Try $250 million.
Another example is the Eco Brand Seventh Generation. Seventh Generation is a household cleaning products brand with a line that includes dishwashing detergents, surface cleaners, paper towels, toilet tissue, disposable diapers, etc. The company and brand was established by Jeffrey Hollander who was once president of the Rainforest Foundation and on the Board of Directors for Greenpeace.
Seventh Generation was founded in 1988 and generated $1million is sales in 1989. Ten years later sales volume grew somewhat modestly and incrementally to reach $11 million in 1999 and grew to $25 million in 2004. What do you think their sales are now? Try approaching $100 million.
These examples illustrate the power of the Eco Branding concept, even if you start small. Consumers are not only now buying products that deliver demonstrable benefits equal to or superior to traditional, non –eco products, they are also buying into a value set that is aspirational to them.
The Eco Branding concept says that you can, in fact, start small, do good, build an environmentally positive track record and succeed. This approach is beginning to debunk the myth that many packaged goods companies have ascribed to for years that says new products have to be tested to validate wide scale share and volume potential in order to be commercially viable.
The most compelling news of late on this subject is that the continuing escalation of the price of oil, and it’s effect on rising costs of packaging materials and a host of product ingredients and materials, has now made the cost of goods for Eco Brands, which have historically been a bit more expensive than traditional brands, much more competitive now in many categories.
This was underscored by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Green Products Gain From New Price Equation”. One example given is a line of compostable dinnerware made by a Colorado company called Eco-Products. Eco Products manufactures their dinnerware using a bio resin made from corn starch and does not use a petroleum based resin. Therefore, their cost of goods has remained stable while the costs of petroleum based resins have continued to escalate, thereby now making Eco-Products dinnerware prices competitive to traditional dinnerware brands made out of petroleum based plastics.
The message to the marketing community is to take note of this phenomenon. Re-orient your thinking. Think small, do good, build a positive environmental track record and ride the Eco Branding wave.
With the continued escalation of oil prices into the foreseeable future, and the rising consumer demand for products that are friendly to the environment, the future of Eco Brands has never been brighter.
Cornerstone Strategic Branding, Inc
July 18, 2008
July 13, 2008
July 11, 2008
The narrative is carried out through intriguing questions. One particular question presented was very useful for me: "Why do many bars charge customers for water but give them peanuts for free?" One of the product categories we have in our portfolio in Brazil is snacks. Over the years we haven't had the same success in bars like we have in other channels. So, I was obviously intrigued by the question. This is how the author answers it...
"The key to understanding this practice is to recognize that the terms on which bars offer water and nuts are dictated by the effect of these commodities on demand for bars' core product, alcoholic beverages. Nuts and alcoholic beverages are compliments. Someone who eats more nuts will demand more beer or spirits. Since nuts are relatively cheap and each alcoholic drink generates a relatively high profit margin, making nuts free available tends to increase bars' profits. By contrast, water and alcoholic beverages are substitutes. The more water bar customer drink, the fewer alcoholic beverages they will order So even though water is relatively inexpensive, bars have an incentive to set a high price for it, thereby discouraging its consumption."
It seems obvious, but I believe marketers (including myself) do not always work so intensely on trying to find channel insights as much as we do when it comes to consumer insights.
July 6, 2008
July 5, 2008
July 3, 2008
This is how the agency defines Froguism - their guiding principles:
Being results focused, smart, and agile
Believing you CAN outwit the dinosaurs
Effortlessly hopping from one part of your world to another
Using your ingenuity to solve problems not your size
Making the most of your strengths with efficiency and control
Creating perpetual motion, one step at a time
Engaging the world from a shared perspective from the ground up
In a world of dinosaurs, it's good to be a frog