Ladies, our voices on the web and eco-purchases are having an massive impact on big business. Every word is being captured and measured, every purchase recorded and tracked. The problem is, we still aren't getting the credit for our work as Prompters or thanked enough as Buyers. And yet, big business spends a growing amount of ad dollars trying to court our good favor to earn free word-of-mouth marketing from us and our friends and families. A public and sincere, "thank you" goes a long, social way.
Look at the links at the end of the following quote taken from Joel Makower's recent Green Biz e-newsletter - which gender is buying these things, men or women?
"Revelations of toxic ingredients in consumer goods reached a crescendo during 2010, elevating the topic on the agendas of companies, activists, and regulators alike. Toxics, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and other chemical evils seemed to be showing up everywhere: baby bottles, fast-food toys, celebrity-branded jewelry, mattresses, wallpaper and flooring, food packaging, even cash register receipts."
How many "daddy bloggers" are talking about toxic ingredients in their blogs compared to mommy bloggers? How many are buying baby bottles, toys, jewelry, mattresses, wallpaper and flooring, groceries... not many, not enough for big business to court them for word-of-mouth marketing. The post mentions companies, activists and regulators, but where are the Bloggers and Buyers in this line up? Why aren't the critical Prompters given some credit?
I cited Joel Makower, because he started Green Biz. He deserves credit for his joint efforts. In the same way, isn't it time to mention Prompters not only as a group, but by name? It's the nice thing to do and it's the smart thing to do if companies want more eco-consumers to help build market momentum.
In January, MIT Sloan put out a report on " Sustainability: The Embracers Seize Advantage." In it Beth Springer, Clorox executive vice president of international and personal care products said...
“… the big growth opportunities relating to consumer megatrends have prompted the company to reposition and reinvigorate the Brita water pitchers and filter line.”
At first I burst out laughing, because I love irony and knew the story behind the story. It's ironic that Clorox and others in this report, claim the credit for being "Embracers" when they would not have been so embracing if Prompters didn't get the fire going and seed thesus eco-market first.
Another executive in the report said, "Consumers want to buy brands that are good for them and also good for others." No kidding -- and when did consumer NOT want products that are good for both? And yet, there is a reason toxic cleaners are still being made. That is changing because of Prompters.
That said, we can't put all consumers in a pile, not all consumers are Prompters, just like not all big companies are Embracers of sustainability; but isn't it time we started to marry our co-creating efforts? And shouldn't we be engaged before we get married? Shouldn't both names of the couple (or group) be announced in the press? Marketers are working over time to "engage" their consumer more, why not start at the beginning when the spark of the idea is fresh?
In 2008, Beth Terry advocated for the end of plastic bottles filled with water. But you don’t just end one thing without providing a replacement, so Beth also advocated for her readers to use water-filtering systems, Brita being one of them. While using the system would eliminate the need for expensive water in bottles, it didn’t address the leftover plastic filter. Beth learned that in Europe, the Brita filter is being recycled, why not in the U.S.?
Beth isn’t an activist by trade, she’s an accountant, but she knows how to put a website together and a widget. She launched the Take Back the Filter campaign and asked her blogging buddies to sign her petition to Take Back the Filter and to put the petition promotional widget on their blogs. (I was one of them.)
On her own site, Beth's petition was getting 10-20 signatures and 100 hits a day. Then the NY Times ran an article "Pressure is on to Recycle Water Filters" and the 530 more signatures arrived from 690 hits. The tipping point happened with Ideal Bite (now part of Disney) posted Beth’s story. That one post added 7200 signatures and 1200 hits bringing the total up to 15000 signatures.
[Hummm NY Times, 530 signatures, two-woman blog, 7200 signatures -- who has the real power to influence a megatrend?]
When the signatures crested 16,000 Brita decided to work with the Sierra Club to put a plan in place to take back the filter. Would they have done that without Beth’s prompting? I’ll let you answer that one.
Today a big announcement was made by the Eco Textile Industry.
A group of over 30 leading apparel retailers and brands together with a selection of suppliers, academics and NGO’s have today launched the Sustainable Apparel Coalition which aims to share work, research and use an industry-wide index to reduce the environmental and social impact of textiles and clothing.
Who is in this group?
Founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which in 2011 is by invitation only, include: Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., Li & Fung, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp. and Walmart.
"And Walmart" -- it's almost an also-ran mention, but here's the story behind this gathering -- it all started with one women -- Coral Rose. While a Sr. buyer at Wal Mart Coral purchased 190,000 organic cotton yoga outfits that sold out in 10 weeks. Her later Prompting increased the purchasing of more organic textiles across the Walmart world. Unlike the consumer buyers, her story was covered here.
As the largest distributor of retail goods, Wal Mart's impact on the eco-textile world can't be dismissed, without Walmart "Embracing" this eco-movement we would still be stuck in the 60s of good intentions and most likely the above group would not have formed. At the same time, without the Prompting of one Sr. female Buyer and 190,000 female consumer buyers, WalMart and the others wouldn't have a market then or now.
Ultimately it take two to co-create this next market -- Buyers and Sellers. Prior to that, it takes a different two -- Prompters and Embracers -- to start the fire. If companies were smart, they would start highlighting both Prompters and Buyers and publicly thank them by name. We do it in the B2B world all the time, why not the B2C world?
Thank you Beth. Thank you Coral. And a big thank you to all the Prompters who ignite better ways to do business.