Connecting the Dots in 2019
So, what does this all have to do with sustainability? Two things:
- We know that climate change disproportionately impacts folks on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. There are a lot of ways this plays out, but the simplest one to wrap your head around (which isn’t really simple) is that weather disruptions impact crop yields. Fewer crops means higher prices. If you’re already struggling to make ends meet, you can’t afford more expensive food. So, the Yellow Vests and the Trump base who already feel stretched thin, who already feel screwed, are going to get even more stretched and screwed as we enter the full swing of climate change.
- Fighting climate change has long been seen as something that’s in the wheelhouse of the liberal elite. Though folks we call “Working Class Realists” in our consumer segmentation want greener products and more efficient houses for health and safety reasons, they haven’t connected the dots to how government policies and corporate action on sustainability will directly impact their lives.
2019 is the year to change that.My observation at sustainability and energy efficiency conferences in the last half of 2018 is that there’s an urgency coming from corporate America that I haven’t seen before. I’ve been working on sustainability for nearly 15 years now and the shift is palpable. And I’m relieved to see it. But, Corporate America, it’s not enough to curb your carbon emissions. You have to connect the dots from what you’re doing to why it matters to people’s daily lives. That’s how you build brand value and sell more products. But it’s also how we get everyone – especially those who have the most to lose in a 2 degree world – in agreement that these actions are critical. As we enter what’s going to feel like the Longest Presidential Season Ever, I caution politicians on this as well. Right now, climate is buried amidst the noise on immigration and terrorism. Yet, climate change will impact every single one of us, and it will impact the folks worried about immigration in ways that are so much deeper, more painful and permanent than immigration. Your talking points need to tell that story. We must take sustainability out of the realm of the Liberal Elite and make it a concern and a platform for the Everyman. And we can’t run around slapping gas taxes on people as a way to curb climate change. We must be more nuanced … we must offer carrots to go along with the sticks. We must reimagine programs and rebates so a family of four living on $35-40,000/year can see how fighting climate change helps them TODAY as well as tomorrow.
In 2019, connect these dots:Corporations: do the right thing and tell emotionally compelling stories about why you’re doing it. Lay out your vision for the world. Talk about the Big Problems you’re working to overcome and the future you’re aiming to create for everyone. Engage your buyers in your vision and help them see the direct connection between buying your products and creating a better today and tomorrow. Politicians and policymakers: reimagine programs so the folks who are hurting the most right now get the most help. Fix their houses so they’re healthy and efficient, make it possible/affordable for them to buy fuel-efficient cars and access renewable energy. Empower them to take action and gain control over the forces that could keep them in poverty and communicate that narrative. Help them see how climate change is extremely relevant to their lives and is a bigger challenge for them than all of the other stuff we’re talking about – and help them overcome it. And, for good measure, re-read my “wish list for 2018” post from this time last year. It’s still relevant and directly related to what I’m saying here. And if you need help connecting the dots and creating a relevant narrative (it’s not as easy as it sounds), call me and we’ll figure it out. The time to shift and communicate is now.
A Period of Change
Once upon a time, feminine hygiene was a topic simply not mentioned in polite society – and options were limited to an aisle of single-use products. Now, times are changing, and the options have grown. What once seemed like a segment of the consumer packaged goods industry impervious to change is now undergoing profound transformation. New, reusable choices are flooding the market – choices that are better for the environment and, in most cases, work better too. Fifty-nine percent of women have used or considered using them – what will that do to your business?