Brown out for Green

WME, one of Australia’s leading environmental publishers, interviewed Nick Bez, Mobium’s research director on his recent trip to the 13th annual LOHAS Forum, held in Boulder, Colorado in late June.

Moving beyond the green pitch

‘Green’ is losing its sting as a sales pitch on the back of growing skepticism about the claims and a decreasing willingness to pay a premium, says marketing researcher Mobium. Instead, a broader suite of personal, community and planetary benefits are in the frame.

Research director Nick Bez has just returned from the 13th annual LOHAS Forum in the US, which focused on Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a market sector valued at around $500 billion worldwide and $15 billion in Australia last year.

“I was one of 550 business people who attended the LOHAS Forum, which also included representatives from Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, E-Bay, BMW and Frito-Lay,” said Bez.

“These companies gave a clear indication that the demand for healthier, more sustainable products and services is set to fundamentally change the way they market their products and they are planning a raft of sustainability initiatives set to re-invent the retail and brand landscape in the next three years.”

The conference heard from multiple speakers who said that the simplistic approach of slapping ‘green’ tags on products is well past its use by date.

“Green has been done to death - it is losing traction,” Bez said.

“The new wave approach is evidenced by recent campaigns from companies as diverse as IBM, Toyota and Target USA. In the future, marketers will need to communicate the personal, community and planetary health and well-being rather than narrower definitions revolving around green.”

Instead, we’re seeing the rise of campaigns such as IBM’s Smart Planet, Victoria’s black balloons that talk about cost savings rather than greenhouse gases, and the new pitch from Toyota about the Prius that focuses on efficiency and smart solutions.

“Understanding of environmental issues is very shallow. This is about making the intangible relevant and contextualising it back for consumers in a personal way,” said Bez.

Mobium research shows 85% of Australian consumers say they are often skeptical of the health and environmental claims made about products.