In a constant deluge of âgreenâ claims, the key for companies trying to differentiate their sustainability efforts will be storytelling, said Joel Makower, founder and executive editor of greenbiz.com, Thursday at Natural Products Expo West.
Getting the message out
âMore than data or claims, people want good stories,â said Makower, who has written dozens of books on sustainable business and authors the âTwo Steps Forwardâ blog about green business at readjoel.com. Though shoppers might not be aware of it, he said, many companies are âwalking more than talking. And thatâs a problem.â
The challenge, Makower said, is that green stories arenât always easy to tell. For example, choosing to say your company is âless badââas in, using one-third the harsh chemicals it used toâimplies there is still âsome bad.â And often, companiesâ green efforts arenât actually visible in the products themselves, as in manufacturing a new soda can that uses less metal.
Stepping up to the plate
Sustainability claims lead shoppers to a paradox, Makower said. Consumers want to shop green, but they donât want to change. âTheyâre waiting for companies to step up to the plate,â he said.
A company must be truly aware of its environmental impacts before it can address it with corporate commitment, he said. And once the companyâs making progress, it must start talking about it in the marketplace.
Makower left the audience with a challenge: âDoing no harm is no longer sufficient. Itâs time to be thinking bigger, being creative and get to scale.â
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