Your path to market leadership might just be green

by Nov 9, 2017

Wright Electric. Ever heard of them? If you have, you’re more informed than most. Founded in 2016, they are a start-up looking to electrify the skies. As in the atmosphere of nitrogen and oxygen that surrounds us. And they’ve teamed up with the European airline EasyJet in an attempt to be the first electric commercial airline.

How can this be? Wouldn’t aerospace behemoths like Airbus or Boeing have resources to simply outpace such a fledgling start-up in the race to electrification?

Well, if Tesla’s rise in the auto industry is any indicator, maybe not.

The Tesla story has not been fully written, but regardless of where they end up, they have changed the automotive world forever. A company not even 15 years old has successfully put the major automotive players on notice. Few would dispute that the future is electrification, and few would dispute that Tesla is leading the way.

Start-ups vs. the big brands

There’s a reason these up-and-comers have an advantage over the big brand names, even when outmatched by their market prowess and financial resources. Start-ups are born to solve problems. At the other end of that arc, big, conventional companies are often beholden to stay in business, making money for their shareholders in the way that’s always worked for them – the innovation out of which they were born having slipped into the machine of corporate culture and bureaucracy.

With these two fundamentally different mindsets, it’s no wonder that, although many start-ups never become Tesla or Apple or Ford Motor Company (in its day), the ones that shake up the market and ultimately reach out and touch us all are the ones doing it the way nobody thought it could be done. The ones willing to put everything on the line for that crazy idea bankers and board members would steer clear of.

No doubt there were people in the automotive and aviation industries that viewed environmental issues surrounding CO2 as a hindrance. That was their mistake. The winners will be those who saw them for what they are – tremendous opportunities.

Stretch yourself

Big picture, however, this isn’t a post about planes or cars or even electrification. It’s about being intentional when it comes to new market opportunities in your industry, thanks to emerging eco-friendlier technologies.

How should you approach this? That’s a question for you to answer but here are a few suggestions:

  • Assign sustainability to your best and brightest, never let it be a B-team effort.
  • Designate a team to identify opportunities for market leadership. (This should not be a risk-averse group, it should be composed of innovative, out-of-the-box thinkers).
  • Engage your consumers – better yet, specifically those consumers in what might be considered “the fringe,” those espousing beliefs or behaviors that seem “out there” by today’s standards – in this process so your decisions are informed by emerging markets.
  • Find a strategic marketing agency that can facilitate discovery sessions designed to uncover such market opportunities and push your thinking (I can give you a name).

It’s about problem solving, it’s about the future

Unfortunately the term “compliance” is still one we hear from time to time in the area of sustainability. As in, that’s really what’s driving a company’s sustainability efforts – it’s not about innovating to solve a big problem AND drive business; it’s about not running afoul of regulations. Yes, not running afoul of regulations is important. But we’re all on the business playing field here! And sustainability isn’t just good, it’s good for business.

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About the Author

Matt Brass

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing all campaigns and collateral. With nearly two decades of marketing design under his belt, Matt has extensive experience in design, photography and videography, as well as blogging about the latest and greatest (or worst) ad campaigns out there. He leads our team on kayaking trips, too.

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