From Alt to Mainstream

Sustainable Life Media jpeg Here's another in-depth analysis of the Natural Marketing Institute's annual trends report by JP Collins where he takes a look at how alternative products and services are becoming more mainstream.

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By JP Collins, Sustainable Life Media

At the beginning of 2009, Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) released
its annual trends report for the coming year. For 2009, they found the
overarching theme for 2009 is what they call Recalibration. For the
next few months I'm choosing one or more of the 10 trends outlined in
NMI's initial report, go into more depth and explore how they effect
change with customers and how we do business. This month: From Alt to Mainstream.

According to the original report from NMI, consumers are embracing
alternatives to what has been the status quo in a variety of areas from
alternative healthcare practices to bio fuels and transit, alternative
apparel and an awareness of the impact of global warming on things they
use and purchase.

Although this report came out at the beginning of 2009, this particular trend is especially pertinent to today's headlines.

Dumping SUVs for Corollas

At the end of the Cash for Clunkers program it was found that the Toyota Corolla
was the most popular car purchased as a result of the trade-in/rebate.
Originally, another small car, the Ford Focus was in the lead and Ford
dealers reported that most of the vehicles traded in were the Ford
Explorer.

However you feel about this particular program, it's hard not to
take notice that people are making new choices and scaling back.
Although the program was better for boosting car sales than reducing
carbon emissions, from a marketing incentive angle the program shows
that people do make choices that can make a positive impact.

Health Care Alternatives

The NMI report points out that: "With the increased usage of
alternative healthcare practices, physicians, insurers, employers, and
consumers are embracing a more preventative approach to health."
Despite the debate during the summer of 2009 over how health care will
be paid for or the cost of "red or blue pills," it's important to note
that alternatives have been on the rise over the years. Kaiser Permanente
has offered acupuncture, mindful meditation groups to help members
reduce stress. In some cases KP covered Chiropractic for a number of
years and recently has begun hosting farmers' markets outside some of
it's facilities. Demonstrating that it supports a holistic approach to
healthcare.

Despite all the recent attention to comprehensive health care, it's
no longer cutting edge to use alternative healthcare to augment
mainstream medicine. However, more and more people are paying attention
to the alternatives.

On the market(ing) side, what you need to know

This trend is good for all green businesses from energy to clothing.
But like in some of my past articles focusing on this report, it's
important to market these products with useful information that
promotes the healthful, authentic and positive benefits that come with
purchase and use.

Despite the cynical debates over healthcare and the
less-than-impressive legislation over global warming and fuel
standards, consumers are paying attention to these issues and voting
with their dollars. It's important for marketers to reach out to these
consumers with beneficial and explanitory information to help consumers
make the right decisions in their purchases.

JP Collins is the owner and principal of Pylon Studios, a San
Francisco creative agency that provides graphic design and creative
marketing services for clients in the LOHAS, green building, and
renewable energy markets. JP has over 12 years of experience in graphic
design and internet marketing, and has consulted for companies like
Great Place To Work Institute Inc., HarperOne (Harper Collins San
Francisco), CNET, Apple Inc., Barclays Global Investors and the San
Francisco Small Business Development Center.

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