Walmart as the unlikely eco-evangelist?

July 17, 2009

Truth be told, many consumers want to do the right thing by our environment, but, they also want it to be made easy. This is a statement that burns the ears of environmentalists everywhere, but let’s face it, the environmental benefit is traditionally not a top consideration during most consumers’ decision-making process. That is not to say that given the choice of a recycle bin, they will not dispose of a recyclable container correctly, but it is unlikely that you will find that option on Main Street in Wakefield, or throughout communities nationwide.

Such is true with the consumer goods we buy. There is a stigma attached to Whole Foods’ pricing, and the expense of “buying green” that seems to be a dividing factor between those dedicated to the environment and those looking for the budget-friendly route. Could Walmart, the discount retailing giant once chastised for its environmentally un-friendly practices, be the unlikely ally to the eco-conscious community by making buying green easier and more accessible?

It certainly seems so as the retailer, that raked in $406 billion in revenue in 2008 alone, announced yesterday that it will launch a green labeling program over the next year and will label each of the products the company sells by their environmental impact; the company has been working on a sustainability index over the past year to achieve this. This move is part of the company’s long-term goal to not only reverse its reputation, but provide consumers with the information they “want”.

Dealerscope’s Steve Silver posted this quote from Walmart’s CEO, Mike Duke, “Customers want products that are more efficient, that last longer and perform better. And increasingly they want information about the entire lifecycle of a product so they can feel good about buying it. They want to know that the materials in the product are safe, that it was made well and that it was produced in a responsible way.”

Hmm? Whether or not Duke’s comments accurately reflect those of Walmart’s customer base and target market is questionable to me, but there is no question that this announcement will catapult “eco-friendly” to a top considerations for many companies throughout their product design, manufacturing, and packaging process.  Will the retailer’s portfolio of goods, including CE, be shaken up when a manufacturer falls short of a determined standard? Or, will this program simply tell us that we are, in fact, not changing our product purchasing behaviors at all?

Save money. Live better. Buy Green? Time will tell.

Posted by: Katie | follow me on Twitter

Proactive Strategies – Sales, Marketing, PR and Beyond

April 17, 2009

While working on a PR strategy for a new product launch this afternoon, my client reminded me,”This is preliminary. I have to present everything and anything… do not have your ideas constricted by budget right now.Think big.” When was the last time we heard that? Wow. Refreshing. For just a few hours the gradiose ideas were allowed to flow and money was once again growing on trees to applaud them.

Of course, Dad was right – money doesn’t grown on trees. The reality is that these living-large ideas will indeed be reigned in to fit  a predetermined budget and will undoubtedly be scaled accordingly. But, it struck me, since when is “no budget” the equivalent of “no creativity”? When was the last time we thought big? How many of us have heard “no budget” so many times over the last year that we’ve inadvertently  reigned in our ideas and creativity without even noticing? I’m not going to raise my hand and don’t expect you too, but to some degree, I believe we all have.

Interestingly enough, Elly Valas’ article in Dealerscope“Proactive Strategies Generate Sales”, was as refreshing as my client saying, “Think big”. It profiles two business owners, one who decided to launch a sales promotion at his store, the other investing in a new clearance center. They went back to what they called  “old school” basics by creating a proactive sales strategy, invested the time and money (saving where they could) into the event and its promotion, and ultimately drove new sales. They successfully refreshed sales while reinvigorated staff to shift their mindset back to the times of proactive sales and marketing, a.k.a. pre-Recession.

Business consultant Sam Geist was quoted in the article, “As tough as it is out there, I’ve learned two things: the sky isn’t going to fall and we can’t sit around and wait for a turnaround, we have to initiate a turnaround.”

I’m going to leave Chicken Little’s input out of my client’s marketing and PR strategies. 

Posted by Katie | find me on Twitter

Journalists on PR: Grant Clauser

January 4, 2009

Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser is editorial director of North American Publishing Company‘s Consumer Technology Publishing Group, which means he’s the editorial leader of E-Gear (of which he is also editor-in-chief), Dealerscope, CustomRetailer, PictureBusiness, HTSA Quarterly, Home Furnishings Business, HD Living and the Official CES Show Guide (whew, that list is finally over!). All told, an obvious slacker if there ever was one.

Grant’s been covering the CE business for 10 years. Before that, he edited several publications in the allied health market and wrote about fly fishing for various outdoor sports publications. His favorite movies are Excalibur and The Polar Express; his favorite beers are Guinness, Pocono Pale Ale and Yuengling Black & Tan. He wears a size 10.5 shoe. His favorite fly is the Parachute Adams. He sucks at Rock Band (Don’t we all, though? Even the ones who are good at it?). He tried for many CESes to convince me to join him for dinner at Star Trek: The Experience, and was never successful in doing so, although I greatly admired his genuine enthusiasm about the place. As far as I know, he occasionally sleeps.

Given all that is on Grant’s gigantic plate, we’re honored he took some time out to talk to us about PR. Heck, he’s even participated in a CEA webcast on the subject, so he kinda beat me to the punch. And just in case you missed it last week, he also sent me a quite illuminating survey of 20 anonymous CE tech journalists and their attitudes about PR, which makes for quite tasty reading.

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Journalists on PR: Tips for Working with the CE Press

December 30, 2008

My friend and former colleague Grant Clauser, editorial director of North American Publishing Company‘s Consumer Technology Publishing Group (E-Gear, Dealerscope, CustomRetailer, PictureBusiness and more), sent me the following in advance of our upcoming Journalists on PR interview, which we’ll post in January.

Says Grant, “Earlier this year, I was helping a friend who teaches a class in PR by doing a survey of other editors on how PR can better work with them… [T]he answers come from about 20 people and sometimes contradict each other.”

While the respondents all hail from the CE (consumer electronics) press, the results are great reading for any PR professional, as most if not all of what the respondents have to say is largely universal. As you read through, sometimes the contradictions that emerge will make your head spin… but keep in mind that these raw, unfiltered statements provide invaluable insight into how journalists think, and about what they want and don’t want from PR people. (And, of course, like snowflakes, no two journalists are exactly alike.)

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