Thursday, February 16, 2012 3:28 PM
It’s hard to enter a store these days without being visually assaulted by labels, logos, and signs that appeal to our environmental consciousness. It turns out that there’s an even more powerful way for marketers to signal an environmental product to shoppers: Make it brown.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Dunkin’ Donuts and Target’s in-store cafes have switched from white to brown napkins, while Seventh Generation even adds brown pigments to its eco-friendly diapers “to drive home the environmental message.”
And Cascades Tissue is about to enter a new frontier with its U.S. rollout of a beige toilet paper called Moka. It might be a hard sell for fussy Americans, though. Writes WSJ:
Consumers in regions outside of North America are more accepting of recycled toilet paper and more readily embrace colored or fragranced rolls. Kimberly-Clark’s local brands sell apricot-colored paper in the U.K., green in Poland, “sunny orange” in Switzerland and “natural pebble” in Germany, the company says.
It’s a different story in the U.S. When Cascades pitched its Moka toilet paper to distributors at a recent trade show, “faces showed disgust” at first, says [Cascades marketing director Isabell] Faivre. “Then they would feel the product and it was, ‘Oh, wow, that would be perfect,’” for customers who want softness, but also want green credentials, she says.
Let’s not kid ourselves, however: Most Americans prefer bleached-white, super-cushy toilet paper, and the vast majority of the stuff we buy is highly unsustainable. As of 2009, 98 percent of the toilet paper sold in the United States came from virgin wood, according to Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, as reported in The Guardian in a story that explores “the tenderness of the delicate American buttock.”
As Hershkowitz put it:
“Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution.”
Christophers Mims at Grist has a solution: Stop using the stuff. I’m going to let him make the case:
The solution is straightforward: Do away with T.P. Think that sounds unsanitary? Not as unsanitary as our current approach. This is how a friend put it: What if I pooped on your arm and you wiped it off with a paper towel. Is it clean now?
There’s nothing even weird about the idea — lots of cultures don’t share our freakish obsession with sticking paper up our bums. The French invented the bidet in 1710.
Wall Street Journal
, licensed under
Thursday, September 15, 2011 4:41 PM
It’s the last day of New York Fashion Week, where celebrities and the industry elite flank runways to catch the first glimpses of new lines from high-end designers like Marchesa and Alexander McQueen. For the average U.S. consumer, though, fast fashion—cheap clothing produced quick and dirty—hangs in the closet.
Fast fashion’s formula, known as the “quick-response method,” keeps up with ever-changing trends promoted at events like Fashion Week by speeding up every aspect of the clothing-production process: design, manufacturing, distribution, and marketing. In order to keep the pace lively, workers’ conditions and the environment suffer.
A recent study by Iowa State University professor Elena Karpova and grad student Juyoung (Jill) Lee, however, finds that fast fashion doesn’t fly in certain markets, reports Aaron M. Cohen in The Futurist (Sept.-Oct. 2011), offering hope that we don’t have to stay on the current industry treadmill. Cohen writes:
Japanese consumers are willing to pay more for domestically made products with higher price tags, which has resulted in fewer purchases of less-expensive imports. The Japanese apparel industry’s emphasis on more expensive, higher quality goods distinguishes them from foreign competitors in a positive way. Marketing efforts help drive these trends…. Clothing stores in Japan target older consumers, who are likely to be more interested in long-lasting quality than keeping up with the latest styles, while American advertising targets younger consumers interested in just the opposite.
Responsible clothing options in the states and elsewhere are increasingly easy to find, tracked by blogs like Eco-Chick and Eco Fashion World and spearheaded by green designers such as 2010 UtneVisionary Natalia Allen. And, Cohen says, some in the high-fashion industry are recommitting to artisan craftsmanship, with houses like Hermès beginning to emphasize “slow fashion.”
While we in the Utne Reader office certainly don’t claim to be fashion plates, perhaps we’re ahead of the trends on this one: I’ve had my favorite pair of jeans for nearly a decade and our hipster office manager owns a loon-emblazoned sweatshirt (with red, built-in cuffs and collar) that’s older than he is. Slow fashion, we’re ready for you.
Source: The Futurist(membership required)
Image by Noemi Manalang, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 11:46 AM
When I heard about the new legislation restricting the marketing of cigarettes , I wondered how the tobacco industry would respond. The St. Petersburg Times asked noted designer DJ Stout of Pentagram to dream up a solution. He came up with a novel (at least for the tobacco industry) approach: Tell the truth. He explains:
Our marketing advice to cigarette companies in the new heavily regulated era is to fully accept the new aggressive anti-smoking restrictions and wallow in the government’s apocalyptic health warnings. Don’t make excuses or dance around the stepped-up marketing regulations, just transform the whole cigarette pack into a three dimensional warning label.
I think they are brilliant, what do you think?
(Thanks Design You Trust .)
Images courtesy of Pentagram
Tuesday, May 19, 2009 4:55 PM
You know the adage: Sex sells. The wizards who cooked up the low-cal, chocolaty Mars Fling, however, seem to have taken the maxim a bit too, um, literally. In a Bitch-at-its-best take down, the feminist magazine wryly dissects a marketing campaign that urges women to “pleasure [themselves] with this chocolate sensation time and time again.”
Monday, April 20, 2009 11:06 AM
Marketers are doing some serious soul searching these days. It’s all over the pages of the January-February issue of the marketing industry magazine The Hub, as the people who sell stuff reflect on just what it is they’re supposed to be selling now. There’s a vague recognition that the correct answer is not “the same old crap,” but bold and definitive answers are scarce as the writers struggle mightily to break free of marketing speak and deeply embedded consumerist values. And every one of the essayists closes with a conclusion that only a marketer could concoct:
Spencer Hapoienu writes that marketing is in need of an overhaul in “The Obama Challenge.” Despite the crass subheadline—“One should never waste a crisis … and by all accounts this one will be a doozy”—Hapoienu asks a high-minded question: “Is there a way that every brand can participate in improving the lives of its customers beyond simply selling a product?” He suggests that being greener is a key goal, but undermines his point by positing that Procter & Gamble set the bar for value-added marketing with its repositioning of Pampers a few years ago. (Google “disposable diapers” and “landfill” to find out how much value they add to the planet.) Conclusion: “This time is a new opportunity for marketing to lead, leaving a mark every brand can be proud of, while creating a fan base of enthusiastic and grateful customers.”
Tim Manners also starts from a reflective position in “Crisis of Relevance”: “As marketers, we owe it to ourselves, our shoppers and, yes, our country, to take a good hard look at how we may have contributed to the sad state of our economy today.” He suggests marketers need to figure out how to “help solve people’s problems and … live happier lives.” But he too rests his case on specious examples: “Dunkin’ Donuts makes a difference by serving up a workaday pink-and-orange cup of joe. … Kleenex innovated its way to relevance by adding germ-killers to its tissues. … Levi’s innovated its way to relevance by coming up with wardrobe solutions for men.” If overhyped coffee, medicated tissues, and Dockers are the answer to our crisis, we’re in more serious trouble than I thought. Conclusion: “This is a painful moment for marketers, no doubt about it. But it is also a moment when those of us who live up to all our chatter about being relevant will flourish.”
Dori Molitor puts an upbeat motivational-speech spin on things in “Everyone Matters,” which posits that “we all want to know that our lives have a purpose that’s larger than ourselves.” She steps up and criticizes many companies for failing to change their ways, but again her vision of a better world fails to inspire. She notes two recent cases in which retail salespeople helped her and her daughter solve pressing fashion dilemmas: One employee delivered a missing belt to their house after work, and another went “on break” to help her find what she wanted at a competitor’s store. Apparently, the future of retail is low-paid employees doing customers favors while off the clock. Conclusion: “Every ounce of my being believes that the greatest opportunity for brands is to help us live better, more purposeful lives. Treating us like we matter is a huge step in that direction and sometimes it’s as simple as looking us in the eye and being yourself. Humanity is all it takes.”
Tuesday, February 17, 2009 3:27 PM
Some of Quividi’s marketing technologies carry a distinctly Big Brother vibe. Lately, the French company's gotten attention for developing billboard software that uses cameras to gather demographic information about passersby. On the Media recently sat down with Quividi’s chief scientific officer, Paolo Prandoni, to learn how the signs work and gauge how creeped out we ought to be.
In the interview, Prandoni works hard to make the technology sound harmless. He assures listeners that the cameras never record images of people. He also observes that the software isn’t sophisticated enough to reveal much about a person—apparently, it can guess at gender and age based on an analysis of basic bodily features, but not much else.
Prandoni's pretty sure that the static billboard will become obsolete. He thinks tools like Quividi's will eventually allow marketers to tailor their content in reaction to the people moving through a space. Whether or not you buy his argument that Quividi technology is more or less benign, the technology is probably here to stay, and no doubt will continue to evolve.
Image courtesy of cangaroojack, licensed under Creative Commons.
Sources: On the Media
Monday, June 23, 2008 5:29 PM
We crave stories, writes trend-seeker Lynn Casey in the Summer 2008 issue of Arcade. So much so, that the future of marketing belongs to the best storytellers. Internet commerce—with its seemingly endless selection and variable price points—has created a vacuum, Casey says, where things like real touch and real time are scarcities. “Those vendors who can imbue their products with story and feed the hunger in the coming generations for history and connection will thrive,” Casey predicts.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 12:12 PM
How much ebullient advertising jargon can you stand? The folks over at Orion, armed with a sassy excerpt from the new book, The Fruit Hunters, offer us an opportunity to sample some of the marketing wizardry that goes into defining who, precisely, desires what particular fruits, not to mention the analytics involved in deciding what makes certain fruits desirable. Important sentence: “Hugeness, once thought to be a key goal, has proven undesirable.” People don’t want to be crushed by a giant banana anymore? Where have I been?
Saturday, January 05, 2008 12:52 PM
Next time you find yourself at the White Castle drive-thru, ordering a beach ball-sized sack of slyders, don’t blame the midnight munchies. Blame evolution. Blame the monkey, hidden deep inside the mossy roots of your family tree, happily swinging through the jungle picking fruit. According to an article in LiveScience, it’s the monkey’s fault that humans are so easily influenced by fast-food commercials, bright neon signs, and colorful billboards.
Humans’ paternal primates relied on a specific set of skills and senses to survive in the wild. Many of those traits have been passed on to us. Some of the abilities we share with monkeys—seeing colors, perceiving three dimensions—are the same abilities that make us susceptible to even the simplest marketing ploys. Monkeys needed 3D vision to jump from tree to tree. In humans, seeing in three dimensions can make TV hamburgers look irresistible. Monkeys developed the ability to see colors, a trait that helped them judge the ripeness of fruit. Humans' ability to see colors can make stomachs grumble when they see the bright fruits and veggies in grocery-store ads. The article gives the impression that humans haven’t come very far as a species, especially when it comes to food.
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