Thursday, December 16, 2010

... and by the way, you're saving the world

So now that I've given out these super energy efficient lightbulbs to dozens of cutting-edge cafes, restaurants, bars and design shops in SF, I need to create marketing materials to educate and intrigue consumers about the product that is lighting up their field of vision.

First stop: Google
Search phrase: "Green Marketing Strategies"
Result: a bunch of boring philosophical articles on best practices for marketing nichey green products

I appreciate the marketing and branding jargon, but frankly I don't have time for it right now.

I began to list successful products that were substitutes for prior "dirtier" products.  Here were my top three:

1. Toyota Prius
2. Civic Hybrid
3. Phillips "Marathon" lightbulb

From these three examples, I learned something AMAZING today that I want to share.

Toyota began marketing the Prius 2 years before it was available for purchase.  They spent millions of dollars on marketing that educated consumers and, in particular, early adopters.  When the Prius came out in 2000, it was purchased by a relatively small group of these early adopters.

Honda began marketing the Civic Hybrid in 2002.  They focused on appealing to the mass market immediately by positioning the vehicle as a regular Civic, but with the added benefits of increased gas mileage and environmental friendliness.  It quickly became greatest selling hybrid in the US.

Phillips began marketing the "Earth Light" in 1994.  Marketing targeted the green-conscious consumers.  This was a niche audience, and despite the superiority of the bulb, sales were dismal.

In 2004, Toyota marketed its Gen II Prius to target the "Early Majority."  They created a larger vehicle, and utilized tv advertising to tout the vehicle as a “performance car that happened to be environmentally friendly."  By 2008, Prius sales had far surpassed the Civic Hybrid sales.

In 2000, Phillips changed the name of the Earth Light to Marathon to explain its benefit of long life.  The marketing message was "save money on lighting" versus "save the Earth by saving energy."  Consumers liked the fact that they could buy the CFLs and not have to replace the bulb for weeks or months.  The Marathon increased in sales by over 10% year on year from 2000 onward.

In 2010, Toyota's tagline for the Prius is "Harmony between man, nature and machine."  The campaign paints the Prius as offering what buyers want--advanced technology, more power, interior space, safety, and the magic 50-MPG figure--while simultaneously giving nature what it wants: lower tailpipe emissions.  Prius sales are now far, far beyond sales of any other hybrid vehicle on the market.

Civic Hybrid ... who would buy one when they could have a Prius?

So I think this is amazing because it means two things:

1. People buy green when the product is presented to them as being, foremost, a high performance technology with the added benefit of a positive environmental impact

2. If a company educates consumers without asking anything of them, then consumers will eventually pay the company back.

No comments: