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Marketers Must Go “Mainstream Green” to Capitalize on Eco-Friendly Business

The “green movement” has been getting a lot of attention in the past few years, and for good reason.  As time goes on, we as consumers are realizing the need to preserve scarce resources,  limit consumption and adopt sustainable practices in our day-to-day lives.  Despite this shift in emphasis toward green, eco-friendly choices, new data shows that a large portion of Americans remain hesitant when deciding whether or not to purchase green products.

In a recent case study entitled “Mainstream Green”, OgilvyEarth took a closer look at American attitudes toward the green movement and their likelihood to “go green” in their own lives. Unsurprisingly, the study found that 80% of Americans surveyed thought that green activities (using eco-friendly products, purchasing locally grown food, etc.) were important to living a sustainable lifestyle.  Despite this acknowledgment, only 50% of respondents admitted to participating in any of these activities, leaving a 30% “green gap” between knowledge and action.

The study also found that the majority of Americans (66%) are in the “middle green” section of participation.  This group is characterized by a knowledge of the importance of sustainability with little or no action.  Many of those surveyed from the “middle green” section were also more likely to see certain sustainability issues (that we are in a water crisis, that we will run out of gasoline at the current consumption rate, etc.) as hype rather than a real concern.

Overall, the study concluded that 82% of Americans have good green intentions, while only 16% are dedicated to fulfilling their intentions.

The obvious challenge for marketers is how to close this “green gap” and turn good intentions into real action, changing purchasing behavior.  Despite the recent attention the green movement has been attracting,  most companies don’t see promoting green products as good business.

The solution offered by OgilvyEarth, one that I personally agree with, is to make green mainstream.  Too often marketers focus on the 16% of those who are “super green” while failing to address the “middle green” majority discussed above.  This undoubtedly alienates the majority of American consumers.

I do my best to be as green as possible on a college budget, but when I see certain commercials advertising new green products or services, I can’t help but feel like going green is something unattainable or exclusive.  Moreover,  many of the advertisements and green movement efforts make it seem like if you’re not going completely green, you might as well not do anything at all.

By making green mainstream,  marketers will be able to better connect with the majority of consumers who realize sustainability is important but fail to act on their intentions, thus closing the green gap.  The majority of American consumers want to fit in, to be part of the group;  what they don’t want is to feel alienated or out of touch. 

If green products were presented as the norm rather than something exclusive or “cool”, mainstream consumers will be much more likely to be comfortable making that first purchase, whether it’s energy-efficient light bulbs or a new hybrid automobile.  In addition, consumers will begin to realize that there are many little, inexpensive things they can do to move toward a more sustainable lifestyle, dispelling the “all or nothing” notion presented all too often in current marketing efforts.

See OgilvyEarth’s case study “Mainstream Green” in its entirety here.

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Introducing the BlackBerry PlayBook

Research in Motion (RIM) has officially entered the tablet world. April 19 is the date that the BlackBerry PlayBook is going to hit stores at $499. An article on Mashable reviews the product and discusses whether or not they think it can hold its own against the iPad and Android tablets.

The first thing they note is the PlayBook is only 7 inches, which is a “tweener” compared to the 10-inch iPad, according to Steve Jobs. He states the size is too much of an in between– too big to be a smartphone, but too small to be a tablet. However, the author of the Mashable article makes it a point to say that since the PlayBook’s resolution is so high, which makes the text clear and the graphics bright, it feels very similar to the iPad. Their main complaint about the size is that it’s difficult to read in portrait mode, but much better in landscape mode. The author notes that this is a huge drawback.

Other positives about the PlayBook include the familiar interface, accessing notifications and its ability to multitask. The article goes into detail about how switching from one application to another is seamless and would be a “presenter’s dream.”

Some negatives include the lack of quality apps, which is not a new complaint for BlackBerry, and that users would need to hook up their BlackBerry devices to the PlayBook in order to access their mail and messages. The information from their device is not able to store on the PlayBook, however, which some may find inconvenient. Those without a BlackBerry device will have to use another web client for e-mail.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to the PlayBook. As of now, the main appeal is pretty much just towards those who already own a BlackBerry device because of the limited e-mail capabilities, but RIM plans to tackle these complaints for future versions. To read the full review, you can visit the article here.

Say Goodbye to the Flip Video Camera

According to an article on Mashable published yesterday, the production of the Flip video camera by Cisco is being shut down. Cisco announced Tuesday that it will “exit aspects of its consumer businesses.” Apparently the product did not have a very long shelf life.

The article by Christina Warren discusses how the whole appeal of the Flip was replaced by video cameras that are now being built into smartphones, such as the Blackberry and iPhone. The Flip allowed consumers to take video and then easily upload it to the web and social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. An extra pro for the smartphone is the built-in internet access– consumers can upload their videos straight to the web, without a computer, which was not possible with the Flip.

While Warren states in her article that the Flip was “simply an intermediary product” and “a product that disrupted markets before moving aside for a true successor,” it seems that many people do not agree with her nor the discontinuation move by Cisco. The Flip was an inexpensive alternative to purchasing a significantly more expensive smartphone with a data plan and access to a video camera (which all smartphones do NOT have).

According to the comments section beneath Warren’s article, the Flip provided users with the ability to take longer, better quality videos than a smartphone allows. Users also gripe that not everyone wants (or is able to) purchase an expensive smartphone, especially just for video-taking purposes.

So it seems that there are many different views on the shutdown of the Flip. Some people are very upset about it while others think that it was bound to happen eventually. What do you think? Is there still a market for a product like the Flip, or was Cisco right in stepping aside and letting smartphones move in?


Does Social Media Encourage Quality Journalism?

Earlier today I was browsing around Mashable and I came across an article, written by Vadim Lavrusik, which immediately got my attention.  The headline read: “Why Social Media Reinvigorates the Market for Quality Journalism” (the article can be accessed here).

The article discusses, among other things, the ways in which social media are acting as a “content filter” for online material, particularly news content.

As a journalism student, I’m always unsure about the long-term effects social media will have on the field of journalism.  Like anything, there will inevitably be pros and cons.  I usually tend to think that the exponential increase in online content, coupled with the growth of social media, will have more of a negative effect than a positive one.  After reading the article, however, many important points I overlooked were brought to my attention.

Lavrusik explains that, while there are increases in “fluff” or gossip stories every day, social media helps filter this content while helping boost readership for more reliable sources.  Sure,  I may log on to my computer and click on an article about my favorite celebrity or recent scandal, but the content I will actually go out of my way to “like” or share on my social media outlets will be quality, relevant material.

This trend is becoming more and more prevalent in the digital world.  The data cited in Lavrusik article examines the sharing of online content from “The Daily”, an iPad application which publishes material daily on a wide variety of topics.  More specifically,  the data measured what types of stories were most likely to be shared via Twitter.  Out of the seven sections offered in “The Daily” (News, Business, Gossip, Opinion, Arts & Life, Apps & Games and Sports) news stories were tweeted the greatest number of times.  Actually, news stories accounted for over half of all in-app tweets (followed by Opinion stories, which only accounted for about 12%).

In his article, Lavrusik explains why this trend makes sense.  A person may be more likely to browse for and read gossip stories and “fluff” pieces, but he or she is much more likely to share more quality news stories in order to shape the digital world’s perception of them and to pass along stories which they feel are important.

By “liking” or tweeting something,  not only am I showing my followers what’s important to me, but I’m giving my approval of a given story to the original publisher.  Moreover, if I see that a community of my “digital peers” gives its stamp of approval of something, I’m much more likely to read it and take it into consideration.  One of my professors once told me that nothing is more powerful or influential than word of mouth advertising.  With mass amounts of online content being published daily,  it becomes increasingly important to be able to navigate one’s way to quality information.



Lavrusik, Vadim; “Why Social Media Reinvigorates…”

Nieman Journalism Lab, Study on “The Daily”


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McDonald’s Launches Campaign to Boost Recruitment

Hoping to dispel the “McJob” myth,  McDonald’s today launched a multi-pronged campaign aimed at boosting recruitment and changing their image as a below-average employer.  The company hopes to add nearly 50,000 jobs to their work force in the process.
In a recent article in Ad Age, writer Maureen Morrison takes a closer look at the specific strategies the company will use in their ambitious campaign.
First and foremost among these strategies will be to highlight different employees in positions all across their work force.  This, McDonald’s hopes, will help begin to change the perception of what working at McDonald’s is like.
McDonald’s has already begun an internal effort to encourage employees to create short video testimonials of why they “love their McJob” which will be featured across various social media. 
Rick Wion, social media director for McDonald’s USA, says embracing the “McJob” term instead of shying away from it will be key.
“McJob is going to enter the conversation,” he said.  “Rather than avoid the term, let’s embrace it and turn it on its ear.”
The campaign will rely heavily on print advertising,  appearing in magazines like Us Weekly, People and various ethnic print outlets.  The company also plans to utilize point of purchase and in-store advertisements as well as local radio spots.
As a former McDonald’s employee, I can’t help but agree with the company’s efforts to change their image as an employer.  When someone tells you they work at McDonald’s,  images of burger-flipping, low wages and poor management undoubtedly follow.  Based on my experiences, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, many of my colleagues during my time there came from economically disadvantaged situations and were able to make a living and even advance through the company while there.
McDonald’s efforts seem well grounded and well planned.  By featuring real employees in real situations across their company,  McDonald’s should make an impact on people’s perceptions of what they’re like as an employer, and that a “McJob” isn’t the worst thing in the world.  In fact, according to Morrison’s article, 50% of McDonald’s franchisees and 75% of its restaurant managers started out as mere crew members.  It will be interesting to see if they’re able to hit their 50,000 employee mark by the end of the campaign.

2011: The Year of the Mobile?

The phrase “year of the mobile” has been thrown around for the past few years, so hearing it again this year isn’t surprising. What makes 2011 different, however, is that Facebook CTO Bret Taylor has said this year they are going to be focusing a lot more on their mobile division. And when Facebook says something, people listen.

According to Todd Wasserman’s article on Mashable, there are three big potential areas for growth within Facebook’s mobile operations. These represent a great opportunity for marketers to capitalize on them.

      1. Mobile Friendcasting

Retailers offering consumers a mobile site accessible via text message or QR-code will allow those consumers to share their purchases with their Facebook friends. This will become easier and more common as Facebook gets more companies involved with Facebook Places, according to David Augme, the CEO of Augme Technologies.

This means that a new form of advertising comes from these deals being sent to the site. Mobile to Facebook advertising.

      2. Deals

Facebook introduced Deals as a part of their Places platform last November. It offers time sensitive, Groupon-like deals based on location. Expanding Deals will give retailers more incentive to take part in it. If a Facebook user makes a purchase using Deals, which then gets posted on their Facebook account, all of  their friends will see the deal and thus be more likely to purchase from that same retailer. Basically, it’s giving the participating company more awareness.

      3. Phoneless Check-Ins

According to Mark Roberti, editor of RFID Journal, phoneless check-ins make take a while to catch on and go mainstream, but the technology definitely opens up a whole world of opportunity. They make sense at places like waterparks, ski resorts or other events where people might not bring their phones.

Examples of past uses of phonless check-ins are: via RFID-enabled bracelets at the Coca-Cola Amusement Park in Israel, at Vail Resorts and at a New York Marathon sponsored by Asics where the runner’s tag could be read by an RFID reader.

Mobile and social media is the way the future is heading and combining the two can be a huge opportunity for both marketers and retail companies alike. If marketers don’t jump on the trend while it’s still growing, they might find themselves missing out.


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What Makes Male Shoppers Tick?

Earlier today, Simon Goodall, a director at Saatchi & Saatchi X, London, released a very enlightening article on Advertising Age’s Web site entitled “How to Connect With the Heart and Mind of the Male Shopper” (see link below).

I was immediately drawn to the article because, as a male shopper myself, I was curious how someone could write an article on male shopping patterns without gross generalizations, lumping together the buying habits of different men across different generations.  As I read on, however, I found myself agreeing with most of the ideas Goodall puts forth.

Goodall explains that, while men are increasingly shopping for themselves, 40% of them feel unwelcome in retail stores.  This is something that I can connect with personally.  The last time I went  into the mall to look for clothes,  I felt out of place, bombarded with female-centered in-store advertisements and surrounded by mostly, well, women.

So, the question for advertisers is:  how can we make men feel more comfortable in a shopping setting?  The answer, he attests, is not by creating more male stereotypes.  On the contrary, advertisers should stay away from such strategies and instead focus on the “emotional drivers” of why men shop.

Goodall goes on to list and explain the five key drivers which influence male shopping, which are as follows:  men need to demonstrate their mastery of shopping; a product’s performance provides an “emotional functionality” for men;  men don’t browse, they “carry out reconnaissance”; men want products which reflect their progress and status; finally, men want sanctuaries where they can be men.

Despite the outward appearance of generalized assumptions,  each one of these statements rings true for me in thinking about my shopping habits and those of my peers.  The two drivers which I agree with particularly are that men “carry out reconnaissance” and that men want products which reflect their progress and status.  The latter of the two makes sense according to Goodall’s findings:  according to him, 68% of millennial men (that’s me) prefer brands that show good taste and exhibit a sort of exclusivity.

Goodall’s article has many valid points which ring true, at least for a millennial male shopper like myself.  It will be interesting to see if advertisers will begin targeting male consumers using these “emotional drivers” to their advantage.


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