• Integrating green initiatives into every aspect of the organization: Companies are trying to link the corporate brand to efforts in social responsibility, Edwards says—and environmental stewardship can affect the bottom line as it improves customer relationships. At United Parcel Service (UPS), for example, new mapping systems enabled a “No Left Turn” rule to eliminate costly left turns from drivers’ routes. According to The New York Times, UPS spokeswoman Heather Robinson reported that the company shortened delivery routes by 28.5 million miles, saving 3 million gallons of gas and reducing carbon emissions by 31,000 metric tons. “They’re tying their brand image to efficiency and environmental savings,” Edwards says.
• Using ecolabels and ecologos on products or marketing materials: Perhaps the most well-known ecolabel is the recycling symbol composed of chasing arrows, created in 1970 by Gary Anderson, who won a graphics and design competition hosted by the Container Corporation of America. Since then, a significant number of labels have popped up, some of which have contributed to an industry malfeasance known as “greenwashing.” (See the sidebar, “The 7 Sins of Greenwashing.”) Other widely recognized symbols include the USDA Organic, which signifies the use of organic ingredients in food; Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) indicates wood and paper products produced in methods that advocate responsible forestry; and Energy Star identifies home, building and construction, and electronics that are energy efficient.
When adopting these labels, Edwards warns marketers to be careful—while it can help inform consumers, oversaturation of labels in the market has resulted in label blindness. For the most part, consumers today only recognize a handful of labels. Therefore, marketers must identify whether the logo: a) is credible; b) is meaningful and recognizable by the intended audience; and c) fits with the organization’s message.
• Engaging customers in green marketing: Companies are looking to motivate consumers by encouraging them to participate and engage in the campaign or directly with the product. Marketers that send out direct mail pieces can put links directing marketers to participate in green programs online, or do something as simple as ask customers to recycle the mail after reading. Edwards has seen largely positive feedback from marketers who’ve attempted to bring customers into the mix; the number of those doing so is growing but still pretty small, Edwards admits. Only about 100 marketers have enlisted in the DMA’s “Recycle Please” program—a nationwide public education campaign where DMA members are asked to display a “Recycle Please” logo in catalogues and direct mail pieces.
• Asking and respecting customer choices and preferences: Segmentation is a practice that goes back to Marketing 101. Companies that are leveraging customer data and respecting their preferences will inevitably have fewer unnecessary mailings. (For more on this, see this month’s Real ROI case study about U.S. Bank.) In October 2007, the DMA launched its Commitment to Consumer Choice policy, which among other stipulations, requires all DMA members to provide existing and prospective customers and donors with notice of an opportunity to modify or opt out of commercial communications. By giving consumers this choice, companies are not only acting environmentally responsible, but also reinforcing their corporate responsibilities.
• Adopting a lifecycle approach: Companies are selecting green materials and products for their marketing materials and adopting a lifecycle approach that looks at the whole of the campaign, thereby foreseeing areas of potential waste. Edwards sees more marketers adopting recycled and FSC-approved papers and printing, vegetable and soy-based inks, smaller formats and trim sizes, and a reduction in paper use overall. Aromatherapy and skincare treatment provider Decleor now only uses Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and FSC-certified paper, despite the fact that it’s 3 percent to 7 percent more costly. This year, the company stopped printing its logo on gold foil and changed it to a deep, eggplant color, in order to ensure that its paper products are 100 percent recyclable. Moreover, the company only maintains relationships with FSC-certified printers and has actually stopped doing business with a printer that wasn’t—until that printer came back six months later newly certified.
• Shifting to the online space: Digital marketing was projected to reach $25.6 billion in 2009, and reach $55 billion, 21 percent of all marketing spend, by 2014, according to Forrester Research’s United States Interactive Marketing Spend report. Channels included in this report were mobile marketing, social media, email marketing, display advertising, and search marketing. More and more companies are requiring that employees remind email recipients to think about the environment before printing.