Green Marketing Under The Microscope

As we saw over the holidays, green - the environment kind - is figuring into consumers’ spending decisions. More than ever, companies are positioning products as environmentally-friendly. And why not, research says adding green to a marketing message can increase sales (12 percent of U.S. adults are willing to pay extra for consumer electronics that use less energy or come from a company that is environmentally friendly, according to recent research).
Still, more than a few companies have encountered serious pitfalls in marketing themselves as greener or green. In fact, a recent study found that of 1,018 common consumer products ranging from toothpaste to caulking to shampoo to printers, randomly surveyed, 99 percent were guilty of greenwashing.
To make matters worse, seven in ten Americans either “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that when companies call a product “green” (meaning better for the environment), it is usually just a “marketing tactic,” according to a recent survey.
To help the problem, the Federal Trade Commission has begun a regulatory review of its environmental marketing guidelines, also known as the Green Guides.
In the meantime, thisMarketingProfs article offers five green marketing rules from Jacquelyn Ottman:
The first rule is to know your customer and understand how much they know. Whirlpool’s marketing of CFC-free refrigerators faced hurdles when it became evident that customers didn’t know what CFCs were.
Companies also need to be transparent. Consumers must believe in the legitimacy of the product and the claims a company is making.
Consumers need to feel empowered and feel that by buying a certain product, they can make a difference.
The last two rules are to reassure the consumer that green doesn’t mean a compromise in quality nor an unacceptable spike in price.

Marketing Firm Announces Greenwashing Index

A social marketing firm plans to rank the best and worst examples of green marketing in the new EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index to be released next month.

EnviroMedia announced the index at the U.N. Climate Change Conference this week, where it conducted a survey about corporate greenwashing.

The survey found that nine out of 10 delegated believe that some companies are "advertising products and services with environmental claims that could be considered false, unsubstantiated and/or unethical."

"It would not have been much of a surprise to see that kind of response from American or EU constituents, but we were really surprised to see that strong a response from the global community, including many developing countries," said EnviroMedia President Kevin Tuerff in a statement.

For its greenwashing index, the company is asking the public about to submit examples of good and bad green marketing in TV, print or online advertisements.

The results will be unveiled Jan. 7, 2008, the day before the Federal Trade Commission is scheduled to hold a forum as part of its review of green marketing claims.

The announcement of the greenwashing index comes less than a month after environmental marketing firm TerraChoice released a report titled the "Six Sins of Greenwashing," which found that the vast majority of marketing claims aren't true.

From: Climatebiz

Green Ideas Take Root in Business

For U.S. companies, going green has never looked so good.In one of the most dramatic turnabouts in corporate America, previously environmentally apathetic businesses of all sizes and in all industries are rushing to portray themselves as Earth-friendly or touting the eco-friendly aspects of their newest products.

Hardly a day goes by without announcements hawking the latest green initiative, new store or design. Corporate executives are flocking to green-marketing seminars. Even the Business Roundtable, a group of 160 chief executives of major U.S. companies, recently sounded the alarm about the need to reduce greenhouse gases.

In Michigan, it's playing out in everything from landscape services selling special lawn-care programs to protect the watershed to energy-saving skylights and refrigerated cases at a new Wal-Mart set to open Wednesday in Livonia. A Grand Rapids firm has rolled out the first tradeshow exhibit system made of recyclable and renewable materials.

With rising numbers of consumers awakened to the threat of global warming, being seen as green has become a competitive advantage, some marketing experts say. "It's sort of sexy to be green," said Bonnie Carlson, president of the Promotion Marketing Association. "Corporations are jumping on the bandwagon because there's a real positive halo attached to that position."
At the same time, businesses' environmental records face more scrutiny. Climate Counts, a new nonprofit, has evaluated and ranked the climate-change efforts of 56 large companies. Consumers can download free pocket guides with the rankings.

The growth of green marketing
But image isn't the only motivation. Green products often command premium prices. And reducing energy usage helps companies save money. In addition, companies in certain industries such as oil and gas hope to stave off tough climate-change regulations by selling themselves as environmentally conscious, said Thomas Lyon, a professor of sustainable science, technology and commerce at the University of Michigan's business school.

Various industries are "now positioning themselves for a carbon-constrained world," he said. U-M also has tapped into this market. Lyon heads the school's Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, which offers a 3-year program that allows students to earn a master of science degree from the School of Natural Resources and Environment and an MBA.

"The challenge is to take something that is not naturally green and make it into a green product," said Sun Yu, president of Berkley-based Zen Design Group, which created a line of electronic toys that doesn't use disposable batteries.

Green marketing takes many forms, from traditional advertising to sponsorships of environmental groups or events such as the recent Live Earth concerts.

As it has spread, it also has become increasingly sophisticated. Gone are the days when companies simply labeled themselves or their products as green. Now, businesses must explain how they're green and advertise in multiple venues, not just television, said David Lockwood, research director at Mintel, a Chicago market research firm.

"Green awareness has progressed to the point where there is skepticism," he said. Lockwood and other marketing experts also warn that selling a product based on its green attributes alone often doesn't work. Ironically, to be successful, companies also must offer some non-green value, such as greater convenience or savings.

"The trick is to have products that are needed and to make them better," he said.

Companies' claims checked
The rise of green marketing has raised concerns about greenwashing -- companies exaggerating their products' eco-friendly attributes or making misleading claims about their environmental efforts.

"There are more and more pressures for companies to start appearing green," said Michelle Chan, Friends of the Earth's program manager for green investments. "Therefore, there are more and more promises."

But with technology, businesses could find it harder to get away with greenwashing than in the past. The Internet makes it easy for dishonest ad campaigns to quickly gain notoriety. And dozens of watchdog groups have sprung up to help consumers discern who's telling the truth. These efforts could ensure that green marketing doesn't lose its effectiveness and become a fad.
"If anything, it's overwhelming, this wave of awareness," said Kert Davies, research director for Greenpeace. "Hopefully, this sticks around and is not just a phase."

IBM Shines Ray of Light on Processor Technology

IBM has reported a breakthrough in microprocessors: microchip technology that uses silicon and light to transmit information between cores rather than wires and electricity. The result, the company says, is a reduction in power and heat, which would allow for more powerful processors in smaller sizes. The work, however, will take years to move beyond the laboratory stage.

Researchers at IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced Thursday the development of a technological breakthrough known as a "silicon Mach-Zehnder elctro-optic modulator." The device would replace the copper wires normally used to transmit information between the multiple cores in a microprocessor. IBM's optical modulator would convert the electrical signals and send that information using pulses of light through silicon instead of electrical signals on wire.

"We believe this is a major advancement in the field of on-chip silicon nanophotonics," said Dr. Will Green, the lead IBM scientist on the project. "Just like fiber optic networks have enabled the rapid expansion of the Internet by enabling users to exchange huge amounts of data from anywhere in the world, IBM's technology is bringing similar capabilities to the computer chip."
The team of IBM scientists published details of their work in this month's issue of the journal Optics Express.

At the Speed of Light
The IBM modulator is 100 to 1,000 times smaller than previously demonstrated modulators, and according to IBM, will pave "the way for many such devices and eventually complete optical routing networks to be integrated onto a single chip." The modulator could substantially reduce cost, energy and heat while increasing communications bandwidth between the cores more than a hundred times over wired chips.

The goal of the technology is to enable a power-efficient method to connect hundreds or thousands of cores together on a tiny chip by eliminating the wires required to connect them. Using light instead of wire-bound electrical impulses to send information between the cores can be 100 times faster and use 10 times less power.

"Work is underway within IBM and in the industry to pack many more computing cores on a single chip, but today's on-chip communications technology would overheat and be far too slow to handle that increase in workload," said Dr. T.C. Chen, vice president of science and technology at IBM Research. "What we have done is a significant step toward building a vastly smaller and more power-efficient way to connect those cores, in a way that nobody has done before."

It works by converting electrical signals into a series of light pulses carried on a silicon nanophotonic waveguide. The process begins when an input laser beam is delivered to the optical modulator. The modulator acts like a very fast shutter, controlling whether the input laser is blocked or transmitted to the output waveguide.

As digital electrical pulses from a computer core arrive at the modulator, a short pulse of light is allowed to pass through at the optical output. This allows the device to modulate the intensity of the input laser beam, and the modulator converts a stream of 1s and 0s from electrical signals into light pulses

Future of Computing
IBM's announcement highlights a field of research that began several years ago. Companies including Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) , Primarion, Luxtera and IBM have invested millions of dollars into research that could solve the industry's heat-related problem.

"There is in general a fair bit of interest and work going on in various ways to integrate optical links with silicon technology. For example, Intel has a number of projects in this area," Gordon Haff, senior analyst at Illuminata, told TechNewsWorld.

"One of the big problems right now is power and heat," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group. "The more power you put into something the hotter it gets. And of course the more processing you're doing on an ever-denser envelope, the hotter it's going to get. Gordon Moore talked about at some point these things were going to be hotter than the sun, if we didn't do something. This is the kind of thing we need to do to keep that from happening."

Once it is put into practice, this latest technology could significantly cut back on the power requirements of computers and and reduce heat, allowing for even higher densities and more practical power requirements for a device we might carry in a pocket or for an ultra-dense super computer, Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

"This is one of those things that will make advanced computing late in the next decade possible. Without something like this, we would probably hit a pretty heavy wall in the next five to seven years," he explained.

If IBM can productize the technology it will revolutionize not only desktop computers, but also handheld device, for which the power savings requirement is even greater.

"You could do everything on your phone that you now do on your laptop," Enderle pointed out.

From: technewsworld

FTC Tackling Green Marketing Guidelines

Good thing too. The Washington Post reports that the FTC is speeding up a review of its green marketing guidelines to get them more in step with the rush of marketing we’re seeing now. It’s first set of public meetings will take a look at carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates. But that’s just likely to be the first topic, because there are so many others that need to be addressed.

As Joel Makower wrote just yesterday about some research that Terrapass TerraChoice, an environmental marketing firm, released about the claims and realities of the green claims made about 1,100 products. Called The Six Sins of Greenwashing, the report found that “all but one made claims that are either demonstrably false or that risk misleading intended audiences.” You can have your doubts about the study, but the exercise is worth taking a look at. And Makower, who describes himself as initially skeptical, explains the methodology behind it, as explained by TerraChoice.

Makower’s conclusion, and one that I have been looking into recently, is that the only real solution to all of this is a label that folks can trust that’s created using a baseline that everyone follows so you know what you’re going to get. The risk, though, is that it will be years before we get to something as sturdy as the Energy Star label for things other than appliances. Without strong leadership, we could see a proliferation of home grown labels and associations, created by trade groups and companies that risk causing a lot more confusion and suspicion among consumers.

From BusinessWeek

U.S. business carbon slash hoax fools some media

A political action group that bombarded media around the world with false reports of U.S. businesses pledging a major cut in greenhouse gas emissions said its motivation was to get big companies to take greater action on climate issues.
Greenwash Guerrillas, a loose-knit group of students and workers for nonprofit organizations, posed as phony public relations officials and targeted energy reporters around the world on Monday with e-mails and telephone calls.
They claimed that a legitimate group of 33 businesses and environmental groups, the United States Climate Action Partnership, had agreed to slash emissions, blamed for warming the earth, by 90 percent by 2050 and had called for a moratorium on new coal plants.
U.S. CAP includes oil majors ConocoPhillips, Shell Oil and automaker General Motors Corp.
The release said that U.S. CAP was hoping to encourage decisive action in Bali, Indonesia, where delegates from about 190 countries are meeting to try to work out a broad long-term pact to fight climate change.
"We wanted to draw attention to U.S. CAP's influence and hold them to taking real action on climate," Brian Jones, a spokesman for the tricksters who operated from Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States, said in an interview.
The group backed up their press releases by setting up Web sites for a phony public relations company and another claiming to be the new U.S. CAP site, using its official logo.
U.S. CAP businesses and environmental groups said the press release and pledge were "fraudulent."
In fact, at least one U.S. CAP member, Duke Energy Corp, is hoping to build coal plants in the United States, and the group has pressured the U.S. government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by only 60 to 80 percent by 2050.
News outlets including The Dallas Morning News and the New Zealand Herald put the story on their Web sites on Monday, along with the false claims. A source at the Dallas paper confirmed that the site had been duped. The New Zealand paper could not be reached immediately.
"We really hope their editors do not hold them responsible for what was a political action," Jones said about reporters that had been fooled by the hoax.
Katie Mandes, a spokeswoman for the Pew Center on Climate Change, a member of U.S. CAP, said, "We're taking the view that imitation is the highest form of flattery."
She said the group was looking into the legality of the hoaxsters' copying U.S. CAP's logo.

From Environmental News Network (by Reuters)


The GoToCleanAir website provides best-practice guidance designed to help small and medium businesses reduce their climate-change impact.

The site, developed in conjunction with the Pure, The Clean Planet Trust, includes carbon calculators for assessing the carbon footprint of both your business and your daily commute. It also offers advice on how to go green and reduce corporate travel.

The site provides green business news aimed at business readers and includes access to a range of downloadable case studies.

GoToCleanAir was created by Citrix Online, a provider of software and services for communicating over the internet. Its best-known offerings are GoToMyPC, which allows customers to access the contents of their own PC from any web browser, and GoToMeeting, which provides online meeting tools.

We found the GoToCleanAir site useful from the point of view of firms tackling green issues for the first time. Some features would benefit from providing a little more detail. For example, the carbon calculator for commuting uses a blanket average for all journeys, rather than collecting specific data about the vehicle used and the duration or speed of the actual round-trip.
By contrast the calculator for assessing a business's carbon footprint is more detailed and, consequently, more useful.

A downloadable tip sheet listing 50 ways to go green is available, providing a very useful checklist for firms of all sizes aiming to improve their energy efficiency.

From Businessgreen