Recycled, Recyclable, and Green…Oh My

Fads in consumer products have always been a driving force in consumer behavior. Take, for example, the power of trend marketing in influencing the purchasing habits of health-conscious folks. Labels such as “fat free” and “reduced fat” were all the rage in the 1990’s, but have since given way to food industry buzz words such as “low carb” and “organic.”

These labels automatically cause us consumers think about reaching our goals like eating healthy or taking our waist size down a few belt notches. However, they do very little to describe the health benefits the food we eat actually provides. Is it truly beneficial in helping us create a balanced diet? These trends and the marketing efforts which capitalize on them extend far beyond yogurt, chips, and ice cream.

Recently, as we become more aware of the global environmental footprint we leave as an economy, this concern has been addressed once again by product labels. Everywhere we see “recycled material,” “recyclable,” and “green,” but how can we as captains of merchandise make sure that we effectively and ethically market these terms?

An entire sub-industry of promotional product has been created around the idea of preserving this giant greenhouse we live in. In promotional marketing, we look to find the best product for our customers. It is so important that we commit to our due diligence and look for products which truly offer a benefit to the environment and, furthermore, communicate that benefit effectively to our customers.

Green promotional product labels can be deceptive.

When branding a product as green or recycled it is important to make sure we communicate which benefits the product provides. If it made from recyclables…which recyclables and which parts of the product are manufactured from these materials? Perhaps it is comprised of discarded tires. If it is recyclable, does that mean that one part or the entire product can be used in the next generation of consumer goods? Perhaps the handle on the bag is non-recyclable.

It is of the utmost importance that we communicate the specific environmental benefits to our customers. This is one case were we, as purveyors of product, owe our target audience an explanation in advance. To help understand how to qualify green labels and avoid deceptive language you can find the regulations and guidelines at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/grnrule/guides980427.htm a government website geared towards small business owners.

Trends can be lucrative on which to capitalize, but they must be leveraged with complete disclosure and total responsibility. It is important that we, as marketers, sell a spade as a spade, but it is more important that we ensure that our customers know that we are selling spades and not hearts or clubs.

The Fifth “P”

We remember Sir Isaac Newton, right? For those of you who slept through that lesson, he was the guy who discovered a ton of important laws that govern physics as we know it in the modern age. Similarly, the founding fathers of marketing, whoever they may be, have set into motion their own system of rules. In this subjective business there are no laws. However, one set of rules that marketers love dearly are known as the 4 P’s (product, place, price, and promotion for those of you who need a refresher). Whether you are selecting the perfect promotional product line or designing a website, these rules will no doubt guide the strategy of your messaging.

Normally, plucking a lesson right out of academia and exemplifying upfront would not be considered blog best practices. However, an awesome marketer who I had the pleasure of taking a class from decided to shake up this 4P model. He added an additional component: a fifth “P” (gasp!). Technology has changed the model.

This fifth “P” takes into account the people who are stakeholders within any marketing framework. Whether an audience member who is a part of your target market or an interested Tweeter passing along your blog to their content-hungry fan base, technology has dictated that marketers, more than ever, get a conversation going. We are the party-starters of the business world.

That being said, we invite you to explore interesting topics with us through our own blog at The Works Creative Group. As we explore new topics, grow and expand our content we want our audience to participate. Link us to an interesting article, share a blog that caught your eye, even submit your own content if you feel so inspired. Our goal is to learn more from you, our audience, than we could possibly provide in return. Now, let’s get the conversation started….