Hope is On the Horizon When Movements Go Mainstream

yellow-brick-roadApril 25, 2009 I’ve used ‘follow the money’ as my rebel yell for ‘why things are the way they are’ and can usually sniff out the trail like a canine customs patrol.

So it thrills me when the path leads to something positive, obvious, and fruitful, particularly when it’s a movement gaining momentum that I embrace…

Whether it’s CCFC’s Bay Area premiere of Consuming Kids, (which Shaping Youth co-sponsored last night) or Darryl Roberts’ America the Beautiful movie (on body image issues; touring 148 cities, 6 countries w/his DVD forthcoming this fall) or the greening of our planet through corporate ‘motivation’ to market eco-alternatives…The momentum toward a mindshift is on the rise, and the hope is truly nourishing.

I was bemused by the cacophony of gasps, grunts, clucks and heavy sighs coming from the audience of Consuming Kids last night, realizing that I ‘live this stuff everyday’ so incredulity is hard to come by. By the end, a hand-wringing audience begged for a small flicker of light seeking new ways to navigate the media maelstrom with kids, and I raised my hand to do my ‘good media,’ positivity schtick, but alas, we ran out of time, so I’ll do it here a tad…

In a society whose idea of green is ‘show me the money,’ there’s no better place to confirm a sea change than from marketers themselves.

money-trailLook no further than the cover of Ad Age this week trumpeting the rise of eco-friendly products and the mass funneling of funds into ‘going green’…NOT for the trendy eco-centric mindset; those sales remained flat…We’re talking green growth in the mainstream:

Kids’ products, diapers, healthier schools, onesies, paper towels, TP, cleaning products, the works. Whole different enchilada verde…

To me, consumption junction can be trumped by eco-mindfulness and sustainability on an individual basis, but to make it ‘stick,’ dollar-driven behavioral shifts in the marketplace nudge motivations foward to normalize and habitualize greener shoppers. In essence, mainstreaming.

If going green makes some green, then follow the greenbacks to the Emerald City because without a doubt, manufacturers and corporate bigwigs will ride that green bandwagon into Oz and out of the recession…

Follow the yellow brickroad!

The desire to save on commodity costs, win market share, court brand loyalty, and build a new recycled retailing zeitgeist of ‘less is more’ packaging and product lifecycle is a win-win for all…evolving the green revolution beyond youthful idealism and planet stewards toward worldchanging via everyday mom and pop shoppers.

Want evidence?

Ad Age shows the solidification of the greening of our national mindset by pointing to the recession-proof growth of ‘green’ even when some product lines cost MORE during tough times.

Nielsen Co. data shows sales growth of organic food at 5.6% year over year from December, natural food stores up almost 11%, triple-digit growth for the green-cleaner category soaring to 108% this past year, and tons of post-consumer content and natural ingredients brand-building from paper products to diapers, with Huggies Pure & Natural (launched 4-13) reaching out to 500 mommy bloggers and receiving 200,000 requests for samples!


Add that to the Datamonitor chart above and you’ve got some mainstreaming of a movement that’s a ‘keeper,’ not just a trendcentral flash du jour….

But green or not, isn’t consumption still consumption?

Yes, but if corporations have a REASON to go after your green by going green, then the trickle down mainstreaming means you’ll get good VALUE while minimizing environmental impact, instead of doing the ‘Whole Foods-whole paycheck’ bit where the eco-conscious pay a premium for goods that mainstream shoppers can’t afford.

Wal-Mart recently touted ’10 green products for under $10’ on successful biggies like Green Works and Tide Coldwater, so green is no longer just Seventh Generation household products but green line extensions of existing brands.

Hold your hate mail on Wal-Mart, folks, consider that in 2006 Wal-Mart became the largest single buyer of 100% organic cotton products in the world and made huge ‘green advances’ strong-arming packaged goods companies to reduce their footprint, go with concentrates, minimize packaging, etc. or they wouldn’t give them shelf space!

Then factor in that Americans make about 127 million trips to Wal-Mart each WEEK alone, and I dare say, you’ve got some green cred on the change agent front…

Toss in some household basics, like the fact that Scott is about to launch a value brand of paper products made from 40-80% recycled content backed with some serious green ($2 billion+ reaching one in three U.S. consumers!) and it seems pretty REAL that mainstream corporations are churning out alternatives in varying shades of green.

myspace-bookAt the Disneynature Earth premiere in Hollywood, we each received the MySpace/Our Planet community book  called “Change is Possible.”

One line set the tone for me immediately, when I flipped it open and read,

“You don’t have to be a wheat-grass snorting shrub-kisser to want to do your part to stop climate change.” Again…mainstream!

No more of this ‘fringe-factor’ appeal, there’s a sea change rallying around consumption patterns that gives me lots of hope for our nation of Affluenza and ‘buy, buy, baby’ behavioral cues marketed to kids to shift away from e-waste and media worship toward making choices in EVERY realm of green INCLUDING green technology.

When MySpace is talking to kids about purchase power, choices, healthy skepticism about greenwashing and a handy quiz for teens to use in evaluating each potential purchase, I’d say we’re moving ahead on the influencer front!

Their advice for “Consuming Kids?” Consider the value using this closed loop system:

“Do I need this?

Where was it made? What is it made from? How is it packaged? What will I do with it when I’ve used, worn, eaten or played it?

Do I need this?”

Yep. When common sense and market correction go hand in hand, to curb the cycle of kids feeling life is about what you have and what you look like rather than who you are, then I’m hoping the “future’s so bright I have to wear shades”…

Make my lenses green. Deep green. And recyclable.

Here are some of my favorite industry comments on the Ad Age piece which reflects the shift toward advertisers’ accountability:

By marketingprof | OAKLAND, CA April 21, 2009 01:14:08 pm:

“As consumers have less to spend, they are looking for deeper meaning in what they do buy. Having witnessed the greed, arrogance and selfishness of many corporate executives at places like AIG, GM and Merrill Lynch, consumers have become more motivated support companies that have a commitment to doing the right thing rather than just helping their own bottom line. This is one of the many reasons that smart brands are talking more about sustainability. The author is right; this movement won’t just be about going green. CSR includes fair transparent labor practices, cause-related marketing and a focus on the net impact an organization has on society. There has been a cultural shift.

Ethical consumerism may have been helped by media coverage of greedy corporate villains. However, even more so, the movement towards social responsibility has been strengthened by coverage of popular celebrities doing good by going green (the Prius is hot in Hollywood) and/or donating their time and money to causes they care about.

Of course, consumers still want great products at a fair price. However, many brands are giving consumers all that plus an opportunity to feel good about the choices they make. Greed and selfishness are out. Social responsibility is in! Just a passing fad? For everyone’s sake, lets hope not.”

Michal Ann Strahilevitz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Marketing
Golden Gate University

By MrKuren | Montreal, QC April 22, 2009 03:46:49 pm:

“I would love for someone to prove me wrong on this. It seems the advertising industry (which can easily share the blame for the current environmental catastrophe) is in reaction mode. After 100+ years of peeing in the pool, it seems we could be more involved in promoting the responsible use of our planets resources –-without having to be told by strategy reports. Some do this, but most do not. We are humans too right? We are in a position to influence the minds of those we communicate with, why wait until after it becomes profitable. I worry that future generations will look back at us the same way we look at the doctors in tobacco ads from the 50s.”

Woohoo! I sure see a sea change…Do you?

Visual Credits: Lead photo Oz/PremierStudios.com, corp dollar: personalmoneystore.com, chart Datamonitor via Ad Age; book: MySpace



  1. Along these lines, the ‘modest is hottest’ trend-tracking appears to be making a comeback with (quel surprise) media’s assistance…

    Now wth industry didn’t just leave it alone to begin with rather than trying to ‘CLEAN UP THE MESS’ is beyond me…

    Here’s more from trendcentral:


    Droves of tween girls went, with their BFFs (and often their brave parents), to the new Hannah Montana movie this past weekend. While the singing and dancing of course took center stage, both the tweens, decked out in their Miley Cyrus fan gear, and their parents were also paying close attention to the surprisingly modest outfits in the movie – which seems to be making modesty’s comeback in the tween fashion category official. Lead by tweensetter franchises such as High School Musical, iCarly and tween queen Hannah Montana, girls are finally backing away from the the belly-shirts and short-shorts of years past.

    Why are tweens no longer aspiring to dress like Britney? One reason is that in response to criticism from concerned parents, many tween entertainment properties are now featuring more innocent (and wacky) looks. As such, tweens are seeing their role models wearing cardigans instead of tube tops and they want to do the same. Additionally, tweens these days are much closer to their parents and are hyper-conscious of anything that could upset them. As the generation gap closes, tweens are truly looking to their parents for second opinions and are seeking parental approval in their clothing choices. Because of this, tween girls are increasingly taking fashion cues from their mothers who are themselves following Karl Lagerfeld’s “new modesty” trend. Also driven by the recession, women and girls of all ages are looking to spend money on conservative pieces that work for any occasion instead of flashier pieces that might not be in style next season.

    Clothing companies such as Splendid (pictured above) and Ella Moss Girl are picking up on this switch from flesh to fresh and are marketing high-end apparel for the stylish yet conservative 8- to 12-year-old girl. Both brands feature colorful, trendy looks that are playful in an innocent and modest way. Another big trend among the tween set is the resurgence of leggings that allow girls to be active and run around the playground even in the most stylish of dresses. Justice, an offshoot of Limited Too, is also offering fashionable, preppy clothing for tweens on a budget.

    Brands and marketers should keep in mind this “new modesty” when targeting tween girls and their parents. And while looking to tweensetter franchises is never a bad bet, it’s wise to remember that there is a new set of tweens in charge: Malia and Sasha Obama are sure to be tweensetters as the world watches their girly White House antics, and many young girls continue to associate the Obamas with exactly the kind of positivity and values they are trying to exude.”

  2. Miley Cyrus will be soon out of Disney which currently handles how she dress herself. Once she’s out, who knows what kind of style or fashion will she adopt. Hope she doesn’t go the Lohan route.

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