Simple but not easy

Simple but not easy

While world leaders were converging in New York last week to debate climate change, I crisscrossed the country to attend three different conferences (thereby adding more carbon to the aforementioned UN debate, I realize). Specifically, I attended the EEBA conference, the Utility Efficiency Exchange and Sustainable Brands New Metrics. At all of these events, I met folks and heard presentations from the private sector’s front lines of energy and environment – all working to create programs and products that will, ultimately, lower our collective environmental footprint.

My role, as usual, was to give the American consumer perspective and answer the question, “How do we market this energy-conserving and/or more sustainable product/program/home to people most effectively?”

The answer is simple but not easy: do it for them.

Perhaps depressingly, all of our Pulse studies this year point to that inescapable message: Americans want corporations, organizations and even governments to make sustainability ordinary and energy efficiency The Way We Do Things Around Here. They want you to simply build all new homes so that they’re more comfortable and efficient (and beautiful and better quality), fill those homes with smart devices that make energy efficiency automatic, manufacture products in a way that’s not in any way harmful to people or the planet and just generally be the good guys.

And they don’t really want to pay more for it.

Yes, I heard presentations (and gave examples from Shelton Group’s latest work with clients) that laid out successes in getting Americans to recall the right messages, adopt new behaviors and engage with better products and programs. But it all still feels like baby steps … like we’re still plucking from the low-hanging fruit and not creating wholesale culture change. Maybe that’s enough – maybe a lot of people making baby steps actually adds up to wholesale change. But I’m afraid not.

We can debate the merits of Leonardo DiCaprio speaking at the UN Climate Summit later … but I think his sentiment is right that, OK, we can keep encouraging individual actions (like changing light bulbs or buying hybrid cars), but we won’t get to the kind of wholesale change that’s likely needed if industries and governments don’t act boldly.

It’s always obvious at Sustainable Brands events that there are many companies making those kinds of bold moves (and some companies that are actually only dipping their toes in the water). And for folks of a politically conservative nature, that may be enough … let the free market handle it. But so much of what needs to change – like building codes, utility revenue models, infrastructure issues – does require governmental/legislative involvement. There’s just no escaping that.

So … my message after a week of conferences, a little too much news and plenty of time with our latest Energy Pulse report is this: we all need to do whatever it takes to do the right things and be the good guys, and make sustainability and energy efficiency the default. If you’re waiting for the market to demand it (and pay more for it), it might never happen. But when you make this whole thing easier for Americans, they will reward you with their loyalty.



Posted on

October 1, 2014

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Aaron Crecy

Digital Marketing Director

Aaron is responsible for planning, executing and measuring digital marketing strategies for Shelton Group and our clients, with an emphasis on inbound, content, SEO, social media, email and paid initiatives. He constantly researches and explores new tactics and strategies to improve digital campaign performance and results.

Aaron brings to the table more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with premium consumer-facing brands. He came to Shelton Group by way of Malibu Boats, where, as Director of Global Marketing, he oversaw strategic marketing planning and execution for multiple product lines, with specific emphasis on social media and digital. Prior to that, he served as CMO for a leading daily fantasy sports operator, guiding it from startup to the industry’s third-ranked site.

Scot Case

Senior Consultant

A sustainability strategy consultant since 1993, Scot has served as non-profit leader, as a partner in an environmental marketing firm that he grew and sold, and as an executive in a multi-billion-dollar, international company. He has published dozens of articles and case studies, was co-author of the original “Sins of Greenwashing” study, testified before Congress, and been quoted on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal. Scot was also highlighted in an Emmy award-winning documentary on sustainable purchasing.

Casey Ward

VP Account Services

Casey manages our relationships, growth and development with a specific group of clients that includes Environmental Defense Fund, Cotton LEADS and CertainTeed Insulation. She provides leadership and support for the account team members who manage the day-to-day processes for these clients. She contributes to strategic direction for each client and guides our creative efforts to ensure everything we do builds toward meeting – or exceeding – the client’s goals. Her ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay close attention to the details helps her champion her clients’ needs and identify new growth opportunities for them.