Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Act Now While Supplies Last!

Late one night this week, I saw an infomercial about the EcoCanteen, which is very similar to the various other types of reusable canteens available. Initially, it was difficult for me to not criticize the campaign because, after all, it was another poorly produced infomercial–with all the usual gimmicks. But behind the tricks, the EcoCanteen infomercial represents a significant tipping point for the green movement.

Many companies produce campaigns that are effective for the LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) market segment–think of companies selling expensive products like Seventh Gen., Whole Foods or NAU. But very few companies–and I mean very few–achieve what EcoCanteen has. They are able to appeal to both the Frugal market and LOHAS market segments–simultaneously–and without posing a threat to the other (as sometimes happens when a product is marketed specifically to the LOHASians, it can come off as pretentious or conversely, cheap when marketed to the Frugals.)

Another good example of how these two markets can be reached simultaneously is evidenced in a very recent Pratt Institute design competition (at ICFF 2009) in which the competing designers were challenged to make products from sustainable materials all purchased for under $1. Brilliant. We need more inspiration for innovation using the sustainable materials we have and with less money. Good job Pratt. (By the way, did you know that the Pratt buildings on its brooklyn campus were originally designed to function as a factory for shoes if the school idea failed? Luckily that never happened. However, it is evidence that RRR philosophy is built into the curriculum at Pratt whether consciously or not.)

But wait, there's more!

What's more important to realize is the context this informercial is appearing in. Employment rates are up to 9.8%. Even if you have a job and things seem good, I guarantee, at least out of fear, you're still looking for ways to save money.  The EcoCanteen is an environment AND money saving solution. It's the ideal blend of two markets that need to be exploited in this economy to push the Sustainability movement forward.

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