linked in facebook twitter rss

  • Interbrand
  • Brandchannel

your chance!
your chance!


  Will green brands continue to grow strong?   Will green brand continue to grow strong?  Ron Irwin  
Will green brand continue to grow strong? The all-things-good-earth trend seemed to fade out somewhere in the late seventies and by the time the synthetic eighties rolled around it was officially dead. Fast forward to the last decade and suddenly it’s déjà vu all over again.

Laurie Demeritt, president of the Hartman Group, a research firm specializing in the healthy living and wellness market, has been watching this trend since the early nineties reincarnation and subsequent refinement over the last few years.

Demeritt says that today there is no concrete way for marketers to gauge the demographics of the trend toward eco-friendly products. Instead, she points out that "it is a wide-spread, long-term shift in how consumers are living, shopping and buying."

Hartman’s founder, Harvey Hartman, points to well known eco-friendly brand names such as Patagonia, Trader Joe's, Starbucks, Pottery Barn and the Body Shop as the standard bearers of the trend. More recent examples would include brands such as Anthropologic, boutique olive oils, Restoration Hardware, Prada and even Target. Canon, in a bid to become the camera of choice for wildlife photographers, has even managed to make photography equipment nature-friendly with its "Clean Earth Campaign" designed to link the company in consumers' minds to earth-friendly activity. Even pharmaceutical companies now offer either all-natural lines or natural dietary supplements.

According to Demeritt, the green market's gravitation toward natural, organic and eco-friendly products represents an effort by consumers to take control of their health and wellness "in a world that is getting harder to control.” The "wellness" market (an overarching term that includes food supplements, natural drugs, self care products and cosmetics) is growing at an awesome rate of 15 to 20 percent per year, with a current volume of approximately US$ 6.4 billion (7.25B euros).

In a Gallup poll last year between 80 to 90 percent of Americans said they participated in simple eco-conscious behaviors like recycling and reducing energy usage, while 73 percent bought environmentally beneficial products. Demeritt's research indicates that this activity is "not a fad but a return to the idea of authenticity and comfort on the parts of buyers."

A question that comes up again and again to green marketers is whether or not this trend will endure through the upcoming recession. Hartman himself is emphatic on the point: "Do we really think that all those folks with their ultra-light tents and Gore-Tex backpacking equipment are really going to return to Sears for old-fashioned canvas stuff at the next hint of economic downturn? Ditto for coffee: Do we really think that consumers are going to trade Starbucks for Folgers when the next economic recession hits?"

However, according to the Hartman Group, the average green consumer has virtually no brand awareness at all. Therefore, leading companies that have already spent years developing customer confidence in their brand name have, ironically, the most to gain in the trend away from the mass market. As a result, many companies not traditionally associated with the organic lifestyle have nonetheless managed to successfully capitalize on this new consumer base through a policy of product development and the acquisition of small fledgling wellness companies that reappear under the parent company's banner.

Demeritt says the acquisition is “a strategy that many firms are using to enter the natural/organic food marketplace. Companies such as General Mills, Heinz, Kraft, Danone and Kellogg all have acquired or purchased portions of growing natural/organic brands. American Home Products introduced a line of Centrum herbals, Bayer has One-A-Day herbals, and McNeill has specialty supplements such as Aflexa." Colgate-Palmolive has added an herbal brand of toothpaste to its line, and Arm & Hammer Baking soda now has a site devoted to extolling the good-for-the-environment qualities of their product. Given these successes, Demeritt believes that "all companies ought to be acquiring natural product lines."

Marketers wishing to get involved with the trend have learned that the packaging and promotional material that goes with selling eco-friendly products has to be beautiful and refined. Organic product packaging has become simpler and more artful.

In 1995, Clairol's Herbal Essences line, an offshoot from a popular shampoo promoted by Clairol since the 1970s, became the first shampoo company to incorporate art and imagery on the inner back panel of the bottle, creating what they describe as "beautiful, trend setting packaging that consumers enjoyed displaying in their bathrooms." The shampoo's revamped, recycled packaging, herbal and botanical formulas and its support of the conservation organizations were meant to attract a mainly female customer base that "wanted to make a contribution to the planet but who also demanded luxurious, high-performance beauty products." Within one year, Herbal Essences had become the number two hair brand in the US, and Clairol's marketing information refers to Herbal Essences as their "miracle." Today, according to Clairol, somebody uses an Herbal Essences product every fifteen seconds in the US.

How did they do it? Like most companies embracing the wellness campaign, Clairol successfully links its product with a lifestyle. The website triples its visitors every month, and counts over half-a-million members among its "Club Herbal." Like most highly-visited sites, succeeds by providing the target with what it wants. Larry Lucas, Group Product Manager for Clairol Herbal Essences, says that Club Herbal's site not only "offers beauty and product tips that teens adore, but also provides them with a portal to the Internet that they can customize to meet their own personal interests and needs."

Pfizer has also embraced the natural trend. Its Celestial Seasonings Soothers leverages the already well-known Celestial Seasonings brand name, which is a stalwart from the 70s. Christopher Hou, Marketing Assistant at Adams USA, a division of Pfizer, said that the decision to acquire the brand name was "beneficial as Celestial Seasonings gives consumers an alternative to traditional cough drops, which helps round out the category offering." Marketing research, he said, "found that many consumers prefer treating their symptoms with natural products rather than medicines. Our Celestial Seasonings products provide consumers with this alternative." In the same vein, Pfizer's Adams division sells Echinacea Complete Care, an herbal wellness product long relegated to the hippie sideshow of homeopathy but now almost synonymous with over-the-counter cold-care.

The green marketplace is no doubt a reaction to the increasingly processed world around us. The more consumers understand the product, the more demanding they become about what they’ll take home from the shelf. "Consumers believe that these things are what they need to feel better,” says Hartman’s Director of Quantitative Research Michelle Barry. "It's all about choice. It's a real cultural shift." Marketers now need to realize that who makes the product, with what, and how are all questions that will be competing for a consumer’s attention.     



Ron Irwin is a brand consultant and writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. He has lectured extensively on brand management at the University of Cape Town School of Management Studies and to local companies. Find him on the web at

 commenting closed Add Social Bookmark bookmark  print
 suggest topic  recommend ( 16 )  email

  brandchannel home archive   2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006  |  2005  |  2004  |  2003  |  2002  | 2001  | 
Dec 31, 2001 Opportunity Rings: Branding Through SMS -- Kim Barnet
  More and more brands are connecting with customers using SMS and other mobile messaging systems.
Dec 17, 2001 The Chocolate Market Unwrapped -- Stephanie Margolin
  Unwrap the global strategies of Nestlé, Cadbury, and Hershey to discover the rich, and at times nutty, formula behind each brand.
Dec 10, 2001 Krispy Kreme on the Rise -- Robin Rusch
  Krispy Kreme heats up its plans for global rollout. We check in on the brand and see how it stacks up against Dunkin' Donuts.
Dec 3, 2001 Intel Outside -- John Karolefski
  Did Intel venture too far “outside” with its brief extension into consumer electronics?
Nov 26, 2001 The UK Attempts a Royal Come Back -- Nick Thornton
  In response to last year’s terrible blow to tourism, the UK is unveiling a campaign to promote Britain to its citizens and closest neighbor, Europe.
Nov 12, 2001 What Makes a Brand Great? -- Vincent Grimaldi de Puget
  Building a great brand is a blend of art and science.
Nov 5, 2001 Putting the Heart in Branding -- Nick Thornton
  From Coke and Abercrombie & Fitch to GE and Morgan Stanley, we look at the shift in branding strategies following the September 11th attacks on the US.
Oct 29, 2001 Foster's: Australian for Wine? -- Nick Thornton
  Pop the cork on a tinnie of Foster’s? The next shout just might be a middie of fine wine from the Australian brewer.
Oct 22, 2001 Sonic Branding Finds its Voice -- Kim Barnet
  Transcend boundaries and cut through language barriers and image overload with sonic branding.
Oct 15, 2001 Tapping into the World Market -- Kim Barnet
  Competing brands Interbrew and Heineken pursue completely different branding strategies. Is one approach better than the other?
Oct 8, 2001 Can Airlines Weather Turbulent Times? -- Nick Thornton
  What will be the new brand strategy as commercial airlines struggle to recover from a nosedive worldwide?
Oct 1, 2001 Operation Clarity: The Politics of Naming -- Yannis Kavounis
  How powerful is a name? Witness the recent efforts to brand a military campaign in Operation Clarity: the politics of naming.
Sep 24, 2001 Riding the Next Wave -- Robin Rusch
  Forever young? How do edgy independent brands like Rip Curl remain credible as they grow older and more established?
Sep 17, 2001 From Sea to Shining Sea -- Robin Rusch
  After the September 11 attacks, America needs to define its image both for its citizens and the global audience at large.
Sep 10, 2001 Is the Hog's Future Roadkill? -- Nick Thornton
  Will the road end for Harley-Davidson as its demographic dies out? The aging of the Harley rider spells bad news for the classic hogs.
Sep 3, 2001 The Rise & Demise of a Brand Trend? -- Robin Rusch
  Some companies are scrambling to disassociate from their .com ending, while others are proud of the online positioning.
Aug 27, 2001 Patents Cause Drug Headaches -- Nick Thornton
  Multinational pharmaceuticals face damaging PR over fat profits, but the realities behind R&D and promotion make the issue a bit more complex.
Aug 20, 2001 Brand on the Horizon -- Ron Irwin
  Kellogg may be number two in the cereal wars with General Mills, but as Avis taught us, being number two sometimes means trying harder.
Aug 13, 2001 Beijing Stretches its Image to Fit Through the Olympic Rings -- Kim Barnet
  Beijing will need to get on the treadmill if it wants to win the gold for image by the 2008 Olympic Games.
Aug 6, 2001 Flying Foul: Ryanair Flies in the Face of Good Taste -- Nick Thornton
  Ryanair is committing a flying assault and daring Europe to take offence. Do airlines need to work on their brand or is it all about the low fare?
Jul 30, 2001 World's Most Valuable Brands: A Closer Look at Measuring Brands -- Robin Rusch
  Download league tables from Interbrand's annual World's Most Valuable Brand Ranking for 2001, and take a closer look at brand measurements from awareness to value.
Jul 23, 2001 Time Changes Everything: The Mao Brand Evolves -- Kim Barnet
  Mao Inc churns out memorabilia from the Cultural Revolution, but it also illustrates the Chinese confidence in their brand of Communism.
Jul 16, 2001 Europe Cuts the Power -- Nick Thornton
  The GE-Honeywell failed acquisition should be a good learning experience for multinational marketers worldwide.
Jul 9, 2001 Rabbit in Citi Clothing -- Ron Irwin
  How has the Rabbit managed to survive in the wild? Our South African correspondent stalks the beloved yet elusive brand.
Jul 2, 2001 Sick of Ads? -- Nick Thornton
  The Italians and Canadians are breaking new ground in the quest for acceptable ad space. But is a hospital a healthy place to build your brand?
Jun 25, 2001 Brands Get the Blame -- Ian Cocoran
  Is all publicity good publicity? Studies show that people do buy with their conscience, and brand owners are proactively starting to take notice.
Jun 18, 2001 Blue Skies Ahead -- Robin Rusch
  We investigate the turbulent process of developing the JetBlue brand.
Jun 11, 2001 Painting South Africa Red -- Ron Irwin
  Coca-Cola’s brilliant branding campaign in Africa would do well to inform its strategy for the rest of the developing world.
Jun 4, 2001 The Great Whitewash -- Paul Lukas
  How many different names can one brand squeeze out of the same tube of toothpaste?
May 21, 2001 Brazil's Most Valuable Brands -- Robin Rusch
  We present the findings from a recent study of Brazil’s most valuable brands and offer the results in Portuguese and English.
May 14, 2001 A brand in the life of Bachchan -- Raju Bist
  Former Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan has successfully repositioned himself over a 30-year career to become one of Asia’s hottest TV hosts.
May 7, 2001 De Beers in Need of a Polish -- Ron Irwin
  As De Beers arranges to sell its brand, we explore its nefarious past and interview managing director Gary Ralfe on its future.
Apr 30, 2001 Luxury Brands Snub the Web -- Ian Cocoran
  Are luxury brand owners afraid to do business on the web? Does it weaken the brand to sell online?
Apr 23, 2001 Does AOL have a brand to stand on? -- Robin Rusch
  Why is AOL the leading Internet provider in the US? And will the rest of the world buy the “America” in America Online?
Apr 16, 2001 Ford Bags a Landy -- Ron Irwin
  Land Rover continues to conquer the African bush even as it switches drivers from BMW to Ford.
Apr 9, 2001 A 'Real' Steal -- Edward Young
  Intellectual property protection is becoming big business in China where no brand is safe from replication.
Apr 2, 2001 Branding on a Shoestring -- Robin Rusch
  Is your brand on the recession chopping block? How can you leverage your brand during an economic slowdown?
Mar 26, 2001 What've the Scots Got Up Their Kilts? -- Ian Cocoran
  Irn-Bru, “made in Scotland, from girders,” is, of course, the Caledonian nectar, but will the rest of the world warm to this quirky brand?
Mar 19, 2001 The World's Greatest Sports Brand? -- Robin Rusch
  Are the All Blacks the world’s greatest sports brand? Let’s go to the pitch and find out.
Mar 12, 2001 Do Breasts, Blitz & Blood Make a Brand? -- Martin Croft
  It’s got gore and it’s got legs, but does it have brand? A close look at the computer games industry.
Mar 5, 2001 Smoke & Mirrors -- Nick Thornton
  Are tobacco transnationlists sinners or saints? Your view may depend on the tobacco marketing laws in your country.
Feb 26, 2001 Levi's: It Ain’t Easy Being Blue -- Ian Cocoran
  Read our riveting article on Levi’s attempts to recapture the jeans market.
Feb 19, 2001 Uncorking the Spirit of South Africa -- Ron Irwin
  South Africa invites the US to a wine tasting. Uncork a bottle of Kaapzicht and read about how winegrowers are setting off to promote brand Africa.
Feb 12, 2001 Happy Brand Val-entine's Day -- Ian Cocoran
  Some brands make the most unlikely bed partners. Yet many are matching up in an attempt to attract consumers in search of the perfect Valentine.
Feb 5, 2001 Globalized Guinness Draws a Half Pint at Home -- Nick Thornton
  Guinness takes its brand out of the warm pubs of Ireland and into the hearts of drinkers worldwide, from Kathmandu to Rio.
Jan 29, 2001 Selfridges & Co. -- Caroline Wilson
  The great makeover of Selfridges started with a bespoke branding campaign.