Consumers may not be as disturbed as they once were about global warming. But, they sure are worried about everything related to water. According to a recent Gallup poll, over three-quarters of consumers are greatly or fairly concerned about the nation’s water supply.
o 79% are concerned about water being contaminated by toxic waste
o The same percentage worry about pollution in rivers and lakes
o 77% worry about polluted drinking water
o 75% fret about having enough fresh water to meet the country’s needs
In contrast, only 63% worry about the rain forest and 51% are concerned about global warming.
Why is water at the top of consumers' environmental agenda?
o Water is critical for immediate survival. Everyone knows they must have water NOW to survive. That’s far more compelling than thinking about a resource, like polar ice caps, that will impact future generations' survival.
o Consumers interact with water daily. It’s not a distant resource like the rain forest that is easily forgotten. It’s integrated in all aspects of their lives.
o Water concerns are easy to measure. Water is clean or dirty. It’s plentiful or not. And everyone can tell which it is pretty quickly. Global warming is measured by others, using metrics people debate.
Are we focusing enough of our efforts on addressing consumers' concerns about water? How can we leverage these insights in new products or marketing?
We all know that Americans eat too much food. It turns out that we also waste too much food. Experts agree that between 30% and 40% of the food produced in the US goes straight to the trash can. That's over 300 pounds of food per person.
The environmental and human impact of this waste is staggering. Roughly 25% of the US water supply is used to produce discarded food. 350 million barrels of oil---about 2% of the country's energy consumption---are also used. Food is the second largest component of the nation's waste stream, and it costs $1 billion annually to dispose of it. Finally, food rotting in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Throwing out food also has tremendous societal consequences. 45 million people in the US are "food insecure," meaning they had trouble getting enough to eat in the past 12 months. Many of them are kids. If the nation threw out 5% less food, 4 million additional people could be fed.
What can we do to reduce food waste in our supply chain? How can we help consumers throw out less food at home?
BBMG, GlobeScan, and SustainAbility recently released a compelling green consumer segmentation. It caught my eye because it does a better job than most capturing how Americans think and act.
The research identified four distinct groups based on varying attitudes and actions.
Practicals (36% of the US population.) They are motivated to buy products with proven performance. Social and environmental benefits are “nice to haves,” not critical. Practicals are only interested in green products that match their current brands on all attributes and measurably reward them for being sustainable.
Aspirationals (32% of the US.) This group is motivated by style, status, and shopping. They would like to be sustainable, but struggle to match their attitudes with actions. When companies make a compelling case that being sustainable is on trend, and a critical mass of their friends convert, Aspirationals probably will too.
Indifferents (22% of the US.) The majority of Indifferents do not feel any sense of responsibility to help society and do not worry about their impact on the planet. They are skeptical of all green claims, and resist buying sustainable products even when they have obvious benefits. There is little chance this group will change.
Advocates (11% of the US.) The core of the sustainability movement, Advocates are motivated by responsibility and guilt. These are the influencers who live their values, evangelize a green lifestyle, and sway others to join them.
How can we design our marketing and new products to appeal to Advocates, reward Practicals, and deliver the style and status Aspirationals seek?
There’s a key takeaway for all of us from the recent “Pink Slime” controversy. A company can do something completely legal, and consumers can still believe it has done something horrible wrong.
That’s because today’s consumers value transparency, assess motivations, make decisions, and communicate with each other faster than business can react.
What can we learn at the meat industry’s expense?
Are there any places where we are vulnerable to being absolutely right but totally wrong?
Take a moment and think about your last product development project. What percentage of your effort was spent designing the flavor system? Now, what percentage of time was spent deliberately designing the texture? I’ll bet there’s a significant difference between the two. If so, you’re not alone. I’ve had a lot of conversations with product developers over the past few years and the responses have been similar. So, before your lift a beaker to start your next project, I encourage you to think through your texture targets up front, and how you’ll achieve them. Just like your favorite (and least favorite) foods, I’m pretty sure it’s combination of flavor and texture that’s driving your reaction.
TIC Gums spoke about our historical and continuing commitment to food safety. This commitment is manifest in the safety and quality of each of our products, throughout our culture, and in our continuing drive for improvement and validation of our existing food safety systems. One of the many ways we validate and enact improvement of these systems is through 3rd party audit programs. Earlier this year we decided to pursue the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification, one of the most cutting edge, inclusive, and difficult certifications for a food manufacturer to obtain. SQF differs from previous audit requirements (AIB, GMA-SAFE, etc.) in that this is not a once-per-year audit, but instead an inclusive food safety and quality management system. The audit is not a snapshot in time but a health check of the underlying processes that ensure the safety and quality of our products. Three months later I am so very proud to report that we not only achieved this certification, but achieved it at the highest possible degree (scheme 2000, Level 3) with a score of 99.25%! Achieving this certification validated the effectiveness of our existing processes and, what’s more, required us to re-think some of our previous assumptions and continue to improve our overall food safety and quality processes.
Biodegradable plastics sound like the perfect eco-friendly alternative to landfills full of plastic containers, cups, and bags that last past eternity.
However, scientists at North Carolina State University have discovered that new materials like PLAs are a mixed blessing. They are definitely better than conventional plastics. But, they still have a negative impact on the planet.
When biodegradable plastics break down in landfills, they produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is substantially more potent than carbon dioxide. Only about one third of dumps capture methane and convert it into fuel. The majority let the gas escape into the environment, or burn it off as waste.
What’s more, the landfills that use methane capture equipment install it after garbage has been in a specified “cell” for two years. Most biodegradable plastics are designed specifically to break down in less than two years. The methane they produce is not contained even by the greenest waste facilities.
Scientists are quick to point out that this does not mean we should give up on biodegradable plastics. Instead, we should realize that like many new green technologies, they are a step in the right direction, but not a perfect solution. They suggest that we focus on biodegradable plastics that degrade more slowly, so that most of their methane release occurs after two years. Additionally, they highlight the need for more landfills to capture methane and convert it into fuel.
It’s hard to believe that highlighting a brand’s green credentials could weaken its image. But, that’s exactly what new research from the University of Minnesota suggests.
Professors studied how consumers rated different brands, first when they just heard the brand’s positioning, and then when they heard the brand’s positioning plus its pro-social messages.
For most brands, consumers responded more positively when they heard about the brand’s promise plus its CSR efforts. However, for luxury and status-oriented brands, being told about a brand’s activities that were oriented toward people and planet led consumers to give the brand a lower rating.
It seems that consumers have trouble reconciling the notion that a brand that is focused on enhancing their personal image and indulging them, can also be committed to doing things for the greater good. When faced with this conflict, consumers feel uncomfortable, and discount the brand on all attributes, not just its CSR ones.
The research also suggests that the best way to avoid the dissonance between indulgence and altruism is to separate equity building from CSR messaging. They also recommend that image brands consider creating specific sub-brands to capture their pro-social initiatives.
More and more experts have shifted from talking about how to prevent climate change to discussing how to deal with its inevitable effects.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers recently released a report detailing the impact global warming will have on business. Some of what they highlight has already been talked about extensively: warmers winters, more extreme weather events, and water shortages.
Other important business implications have received much less press: uncertainty, disruption, and new trade routes.
Pricewaterhouse identifies “uncertainty” as the #1 way climate change will affect the economy. The business environment will become less predictable because no one can accurately project the magnitude, location, or timing of the side effects of global warming.
“Disruption” is also near the top of the list. Climate change, in the form of weather events, will damage physical infrastructure. At the same time, climate refugees will leave areas that become too wet, too dry, or too hot, putting a further burden on infrastructure and services in areas that remain habitable.
Finally, the report highlights new trade routes as a significant positive impact for business. As the Arctic melts, a new, shorter shipping channel will open from the Atlantic to Asia.
You can read more about the report and Triple Pundit’s analysis of it here http://www.triplepundit.com/2013/03/top-ten-effects-global-warming-business/