Behavioral science shows : we need feedback. Feedback is an efficient ‘nudge’ in order to help decision-making. We adapt our way of doing stuff, see the impact & fine-tune if necessary.
The issue : Feedback of climate change is rare. Mostly the damage we inflict on the planet is slow, far away, hence invisible. We don’t immediately suffer from the 2° temperature rise, the melting icebergs or rising sea levels. Not just yet. Human reaction is then (unconsciously): “It wasn’t me”, “What difference will my little efforts make?”, “What’s the link between not taking my car today and the planet in 2030?”, etc.
Last summer delivered a precious message to the whole of Europe : "Yes, a 4 month dry summer is probably a visible consequence of the climate-chaos we’re creating".
Can very VISIBLE climate anomalies create
an "opening" & affect consumer behavior ?
This feedback creates a window of opportunity, it raises questions to a wider audience (beyond the usual green crowd) :
Will this up-close personal feedback modify behavior? Will people respond to this temporary signal? For how long will this red alert impact our much-crowded minds? 8 second-attention spans, remember? Will we then think longer than 2 weeks about using less water ? Will less involved masses extrapolate this drought to the fact that our growth-addicted behavior is a real & present danger? That we might be part of the problem?
Can we leverage this alarm-bell towards the masses?
It’s no more some abstraction, or a rational debate between scientists. People have experienced hands-on that something is not right.
And people tick on stories. This is emotionally a much stronger base to build on.
We firmly believe that the planet only makes a chance if mass consumers join the race of sustainable behavior.
In the classic "diffusion of innovation" adoption curve (and yes, sustainability is an innovation), we took the last 30 years to enroll the 2.5% "innovators" and the last 10 years maybe for the 13.5% "early adopters".
You may have spotted these green geeks : they are now 200% convinced, eat organic (perhaps vegan), switch to electric mobility, fold their bike to work, go plastic-free, upcycle etc.
The next group is slower to react to change. These are the masses. They move in herds. They like the comfort of routines. They love easy & simple. Their inertia needs time & more reassurance to adopt any innovation. But we're now in red zone... the man-made 6th extinction is very very close.
Many fear that we don't have another 10 years to convince the next groups. Therefore the question the summer-drought asks is : Can we accelerate the sustainable shift and enlist the masses before it is too late?
The (less involved) majority needs different arguments than (converted) early adopters.The shock-effect of this summer might be an effective one.
The more "dramatic" context of burnt lawns (or Indian monsoons or multiplication of Japanese typhoons...) , of government interventions on water usage (in South Africa, people were asked not to shower) could be a handle to take in the ‘early majority’.
Desire is needed to wake up this ‘less-involved’ majority
How? Sustainable alternatives exist and innovative solutions are arising every day. Take Nebia for example, a shower that uses 70% less water.
Or Joulia, a swiss marvel that recuperates the heat of every shower to reinject it in your system. Ever heard of it?
We believe that marketing professionals worldwide can help engineers to market their innovation more quickly to reach those necessary masses.
Clever marketing is needed to create a desire for sustainable solutions. Consumers are not convinced based on ratio, on logic or figures. They will only move if something is highly desirable. We're asking a huge behavioral shift here. It's not just switching product flavor. We're asking them to step outside their comfort zone and dare to question current routines. Sustainable needs a story, a packaging... it needs marketing.
Cleantech needs to become sexy.
Make it easy
This group will never look for sustainable solutions proactively, so we marketers need to confront them, despite themselves.
In such a seamless way, that the switch from traditional (polluting) options is a no-brainer. Mr Musk made Tesla so over-performing on all performance criteria of traditional cars, that no one could find a reason NOT to buy it. Except for the price perhaps. But now he made his case with innovation-hungry early adopters, he’s ready (soonish…) with Model 3 for the early majority. And then you can just order online…
Easy & simple UX. Fitting their habits. They need to feel that they will not lose comfort, that natural/green/eco/fairtrade solutions can be as efficient as current solutions, and (by the way) if it's better for the planet. Even better if it's cool & shareable on their wall. Make it fun & accessible (remember the 'fun theory'?).
Marketing can accelerate sustainable
Green arguments are starting to mature, yes, true, we WILL advance in the curve of adoption. The question for us is : will we wait till it gradually does that, till governments are forbidding stuff, tax polluters or till subsidies stimulate green behavior? Or can we jumpstart this change through excellent communication, stopping power, content marketing or facilitated viral sharing.
To consumers : Time is over for ‘can’t-be-bothered’ attitude, we invite you to enter the 'curve'. How? Reward companies that make green efforts & positively reinforce them into the curve with your purchases. Walmart Buy organic produce by agreeing to pay more for things made the right way. Boycott discounters that treat their employees badly to put pressure on their costs. Start greenspotting : every time you spot a better solution, share it to your world!
To marketers : take the challenge and put your skills to the service of any product or service that may advance crowds in the right direction. In the end, that’s what marketing initially was invented for : marketers create stories, so that people know a product exists. Marketing tends to have a bad name, they 'invent' needs for things we don't really need. Now is the time to apply the magic to what the planet urgently needs...
To all : If you know a brilliant B2B engineering company with a revolutionary Cleantech technology. If you are aware of a perfect green alternative to meat. If you're in touch with great societal projects wanting to scale up : share this article.
We firmly believe that by sharing our marketing expertise, the shift to sustainable can be accelerated.
Marketing joins the sustainable race!