Looking back on the first quarter of 2013 and forward to 2014

Looking back on the first quarter of 2013 and forward to 2014

Strategic sustainability marketing continues to trend strong.  

At the start of each year, we make our predictions for the world of sustainability marketing. Along with everyone else, we’ve been surprised by the vigor of the stock market. In the same way, the trends in energy efficiency, sustainability and social responsibility marketing are continuing upward.

Toward the end of November, Shelton Insights will provide a recap on the trends of the current year and predictions for the themes to look for in 2014.

As of the first quarter of 2013, here are our updated predictions:

Corporate Social Responsibility shifts into high gear

More and more companies are seeing the value of being absolutely transparent about their business practices.

According to a 2012 G&A Institute study, 53 percent of companies in the S&P 500 published progress reports on their sustainability efforts last year. Only 20 percent of these same S&P 500 companies reported their progress in 2010.

That upward trend has continued in 2013. The companies who are the most transparent – and actually doing the right things – are the ones who are reaping the biggest rewards from consumers, particularly the green-minded Millennials.

Sustainable packaging grows

Excess packaging is a major complaint from many consumers about the products they purchase. Not only is a lot of packaging unnecessary, it’s often non-recyclable.

Most companies are all over this (as evidenced by the proliferation of sustainable packaging conferences and their growing attendance over the last few years).

Last November, Nestlé reported that over the past 20 years it has reduced its packaging by between 18 and 31 million pounds through a variety of innovations and evaluation tools.

So expect to see the trend of interesting packaging innovations continue.

Water issues pushed further into the light

We’ve long known that water is a precious and finite resource, but for most Americans, it’s cheap and easy to come by, so we fail to treat it as though it’s precious.

This year, that may begin to change. With over a billion people worldwide now not having access to clean drinking water, it will be a mainstay in the press. And with the prolonged droughts in middle-America last year, the issue should begin to hit home.

(We’ve long seen in our research that when Americans or people they love are touched by the effects of environmental issues, they jump on the green train pretty quickly.)

As we move into summer, look for more water usage quotas and laws drawn up in 2013 to help minimize the damage.

Increased green legislation

At the state and local levels, we should expect to see even more legislation this year – legislation designed to deal with the fiscal crisis many municipalities find themselves in, disguised as legislation designed to improve the environment.

We could see increased taxes/costs applied to waste disposal and certain chemicals banned (with fines handed out to manufacturers who don’t ban them).

New FTC Green Guides will impact green product marketers 

The Federal Trade Commission has rewritten its Green Guides, based on the mounting consumer confusion regarding “green” product claims.

Improved definitions of sustainability

There are a lot of buzzwords associated with environmental sustainability, such as “carbon footprint” and “hyper-miling.” Even “sustainability.”

Unfortunately, most Americans have no idea what these terms actually mean.

Most companies are now aware of this and see that they have a window of opportunity to define sustainability on their terms and begin to engage consumers around that definition.  We are definitely seeing more of this refining and defining.

Look for our December update and preview of 2014! 


Posted on

April 23, 2013

About the Author

Pat Lorentz

Pat is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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