Eco-friendly products are going mainstream

Dallasnews_jpegAn article in the Dallas Morning News describes what we have been seeing for a while: green products and marketing are becoming mainstream.  But does this mean that we’ll have the public support we need to get legislation passed?

Posted April 9, 2008, The Dallas Morning News
By Maria Halkias
[email protected]


    

Walmart_pic_jpeg
       Attention, tree huggers: Your values aren’t so exclusive anymore.

Earth Day
2008, on April 22, marks a paradigm shift in the social consciousness
of America as mainstream retail makes it easier for consumers to live a
greener lifestyle.

    

Merchandise that appeals to the
environmentally conscious no longer requires a trip to a specialty
store but is as close as the neighborhood shopping center. That means
all the trappings of a green lifestyle are also becoming more
affordable for middle America.

    

Move over President’s Day
and weekend early bird sales. Shoppers: Prepare to hear the new mantra
as the mall turns green this month.

Organic
cotton bath towels and sheets and Arizona jeans made from recycled
denim are available at J.C. Penney. An eco-friendly tote bag designed
by Fossil Inc. is among the products coming to Macy’s, and next month
Target will stock its first eco-friendly, limited-edition designer
collection.

    

Product manufacturers from Coca-Cola to Keds
sneakers to Dell computers are pushing recycled materials and ways to
offset your carbon impact.

    

With Earth Day’s roots dating
to the 1960s, consumers have seen plenty of eco-friendly fads and
trends over the years.

    

       Is the timing right to broadcast this marketing message?    

    

"This time, it’s a shift," said Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice
president at TNS Retail Forward. The firm surveyed consumers in
November 2006 and last January on various brands and retailers and
their commitment to social responsibility.

    

Consumers said
that issues such as reducing waste and supporting recycling were more
important to them in the most recent poll, Ms. Whitfield said.

    

Even as the economy weakened between the two polls, consumers said in
January that they were willing to pay a little more for a product that
met some aspect of social responsibility, such as being
energy-efficient or packaged to reduce waste.

    

       Those consumer attitudes are making niche products more widely        available, she said.    

    

"What’s happening now is not about mainstream America becoming more
green; what we’re seeing now is making green products more mainstream,"
said Raphael Bemporad, principal and co-founder of BBMG, a market
research firm that has published a new report on the conscious
consumer.

    

About 60 percent of Americans already identify
themselves as socially responsible, he said. The most dedicated 10
percent are willing to be inconvenienced; the next 20 percent share the
same values as the most dedicated but are less likely to make
trade-offs; and the next 30 percent say they’ll switch if performance,
quality and price are delivered.

    

Companies are figuring
out more ways to go green and save money at the same time. In reality,
Wal-Mart got on board with the ultra-concentrated detergent in smaller
bottles because it cost less, but if Wal-Mart does it, consumers take
notice, Ms. Whitfield said.

    

Wal-Mart’s campaign to get
Americans to replace their light bulbs with more energy-efficient curly
fluorescents has also had an impact.

    

In its January poll,
Retail Forward asked consumers which retailers they believed were
committed to sustainability and social responsibility initiatives. For
the first time, Wal-Mart jumped ahead of Whole Foods Market, she said.

    

       In BBMG’s poll, Wal-Mart ranked third, behind Whole Foods and Newman’s        Own.    

    

Although eco-friendly awareness has gone mainstream, the dangers that
manufacturers and retailers face with such claims is that they can’t
just be buzzwords, Mr. Bemporad said.

    

       "That means more skepticism, and authenticity is more important than        ever," he said.    

    

       "There will be a huge backlash if marketing claims and how a company        behaves don’t match."

    

       J.C. Penney    

    

This month, J.C. Penney launched "Simply Green," an exclusive
eco-conscious designation for its own apparel and home accessories
brands. Environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo is consultant on the
project. To qualify, an item must be made from either 70 percent
organically grown materials or at least 25 percent renewable or
recycled materials.

    

 

    

       WAL-MART    

    

Wal-Mart gets kudos for leading the masses to eco-friendly light bulbs.
Now it’s turning coffee into an eco-friendly purchase. Its new line of
java is Fair Trade Certified, USDA Organic and approved by the
Rainforest Alliance. Cost is $5.88 for 10 to 12 oz. bags.

    

 

    

       TARGET    

    

Target, known for affordable designer fashion, has its first
eco-friendly limited edition designer collection coming to stores in
mid-May. Organic cotton and linen summer silhouettes from socially
conscious designer Rogan Gregory will be priced from $14.99 to $44.99.

    

 

    

       TOYS "R" US    

    

Toys "R" Us is putting its name on a new line of environmentally
friendly toys in time for Earth Day. The industry was plagued last year
with lead paint and other recalls, which did a lot to raise consumer
awareness.

    

 

    

       MACY’S    

    

       Macy’s "Turn over a new leaf" campaign will contribute $1 from the sale        of each reusable $3.95 shopping bag to
the National Park Foundation. It’s also selling eco-friendly
merchandise, including an $18 tote by Fossil Inc.

No Responses to “Eco-friendly products are going mainstream”

  1. Energy independence is much more important than global warming. When the US is energy independent there will be no more oil wars and the terrorists will no longer be able or interested in reaching us. This will save lives AND energy. The global warming crowd can’t claim this. The truth is only the Chinese can stop man made climate change. They are going through an industrial revolution that is sure to dwarf our own. Does this mean we should do nothing? Far from it. Let’s study what Denmark, France, Brazil, and Australia have done on energy and do likewise. Let’s drill wherever we have oil and put a new nuclear power plant in every state. Let’s use all our coal and natural gas. We don’t need foreign energy. And we will be safer, greener, and richer with out it.

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