To Sell Green, Don’t Sell Green, Say Marketers

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Solutions Magazine recently analyzed the marketing around energy-efficient lightbulbs as a case study of how to sell green. The article by Edwin R. Stafford and Cathy L. Hartman starts with the 1990s transition from incandescent bulbs to CFLs (a heated political debate) and then into the current new wave of LEDs. Contending that only 1-5 percent of purchases are made on the basis of a product’s “greenness”, the authors ask marketers to stress the other practical qualities that usually come with being ecologically conscious: health benefits, durability, and cost effectiveness.
They also delve into the concept of “bundling,” which means packaging other attractive features along with sustainability. The examples are excellent, particularly those that show the difference between developed and developing markets.

Save the Environment and More! Lessons in Green Marketing

By Edwin R. Stafford, Cathy L. Hartman
“I don’t like the federal government taking choices away from consumers,” declared United States Representative John J. Duncan, Jr., of Tennessee’s second congressional district, “I think the country is much better off if we give the American people more choices instead of fewer.”
This sentiment framed the political firestorm over light bulbs in early 2011. Duncan was part of a growing chorus of policy makers and pundits voicing opposition to the part of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 which mandated that, beginning in 2012, light bulbs sold in the United States would have to be approximately 25 percent more energy efficient.
At issue was the idea that existing, inexpensive incandescent light bulbs would be banned. This technology had not evolved much since Thomas Edison’s invention in the 1880s, making it terribly inefficient.
The Alliance to Save Energy (a coalition of light bulb manufacturers, power utilities, environmental groups, businesses, and government agencies) asserted that lighting accounted for about 22 percent of America’s energy use, and it estimated that elimination of incandescent bulbs could save Americans $18 billion annually in electricity consumption, an amount equivalent to the power generation of 80 coal-fired power plants.2 Interestingly, many light bulb manufacturers supported a national efficiency standard to avert the enactment of conflicting standards by individual states. In December 2007 the EISA passed with broad bipartisan support and was signed by President George W. Bush.
Read more here.

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