Thursday, October 30, 2008

Going Green Yet?

I got a wild idea this past August and decided to take two classes this semester. Damn you, ambition! Luckily, I thrive on stress (and sarcasm).

One of said classes is about communicating sustainability (a.k.a. "talking green"). I find this class quite interesting, not only because my professor has appeared on Oprah twice along with a slew of other top-tier media outlets (a.k.a she knows her stuff), but also because there is a wealth of debate surrounding green consumerism, which is somewhat fascinating to me as a marketer. And as you probably know by now if you've listened to any of my spiel, moms are making 85% of household purchase decisions, so its imperative that green consumerism embrace moms. Does a “Green Approved” stamp on a household product make it more attractive to the general mom consumer population? Can established household and baby brands actually encourage moms to go green with them?

As moms, we are attractive targets for many brands because we're part of a lucrative $2 trillion market. Clorox knows us very well. Recently, I’ve gotten to know Clorox a little better.

Did you know that Burt’s Bees (a popular organic brand) is owned by Clorox? Yes, I’m talking about the same Clorox that pumps bleach into our water system. Clorox purchased Burt’s Bees at the end of 2007 for nearly $1 billion (yes, with a “b”) because, according to the New York Times, “Big companies see big opportunities in the market for green products...Analysts say there is far more growth to be had by it and its competitors as consumers keep gravitating toward products that promise organic and environmental benefits.”

In other words, "green" could be a marketing cash cow ready for the tapping. As a student I'm pondering the chicken-and-egg issue with green marketing to moms: Could it be that mom consumer behaviors are actually spurring household and baby products to go green? If more and more household and baby brands with some degree of established brand equity offer green products to moms (Huggies, are you listening?), will more moms decide choose “green” over those “other” colors?

It’s nearly impossible to talk about going green as a mom without mentioning the great diaper debate. I read an article claiming 200,000 trees each year are used to manufacture disposable diapers for U.S. babies, and it takes several hundred years for disposables to decompose in our landfills. Yuck.

What if Huggies, Pampers and Luvs offered a "green" option, the way Clorox offers a “green” line? I was a baby of the 70s who wore cloth diapers and plastic pants, but I am somehow confused by the idea of using cloth diapers on my hawklets. I couldn’t tell you the name of a cloth diaper brand or, frankly, even how to use a cloth diaper (do you just toss in the washing machine? What?), but even before I was a mom I was very familiar with Huggies, Pampers and Luvs. If these brands offered me greener options, of course I would support them with my pocketbook.

This just in: Target sells organic cotton baby onesies? Why wasn't that marketed to me when I was pregnant and spending (and registering at Target) like a crazy woman?

Does green consumerism need to start leveraging moms’ established brand equity to capture more market share? I think the folks at Clorox would say, “Yes!”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And while we're on the subject of little watching eyes and listening ears...

I recently viewed this powerful public service announcement from Australia on another blog and it struck me. This is a reminder about the impact that parents, and adults in general, can have on the little sponges that are our kids. I would love to see a similar campaign here in the U.S., especially as statistics reveal that moms are actively looking to TV spots to educate them about social responsibility.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The bomb hits

On a business trip in Chicago this week I received an *urgent* call from my sister:

"I thought you would want to know what your son did today at Mimi's."


"He dropped the f-bomb."


It hit me like a punch. A confirmation that little ears were indeed listening, absorbing. (Dad's potty mouth, of course. Not mine.) He had been trying to open a stubborn window when the bomb hit. Mimi advised him that "we don't use that word at Mimi's house." And then went on to get to the root of the evil, of course: "Where did you hear that word?"

My son's reply? "In the car." Hmmm...well, that explains it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What's in a name?

Recently I had the pleasure of spending a day with the DMV and the license bureau and the inspection place. I know what you're thinking: "I'm so jealous! What fun you must have had! I only wish I too could waste away my life waiting in line like you got to!" I know, it was awesome.

And in the course of my day and the paperwork that went along with it, I encountered several opportunities to correct people who were getting my name wrong. Hello? Is Liz Hawks really that difficult? Okay, Elizabeth Hawks? Is that difficult? Um, no, I don't think so. But apparently several others do. Take, for example, the four people at the DMV with whom I had to argue that five years ago when I got married I changed my middle name to my maiden name. Missouri was completely fine with that. But Kansas? Um, not so much. (And by the way, Kansas could not care less what Missouri does!) I think I heard the phrase "Homeland Security" about 10 times in the course of these discussions. Right, I am plotting something really dangerous here, as you can tell by the fact that when I got married my maiden name became my middle name. Book me now!

Then there was the inspection guy, who decided my last name was Hawk, not Hawks. Because Hubby's sloppy signature appeared to say "Hawk" even though the printed version clearly included the "s." I had to ask him to add the "s" after he tried to argue that if Hubby signed his name without it, then it must be "Hawk." Um, no, let's add that "s," thanks.

It's funny to me that that one letter makes such a difference. People don't seem to think it's a big deal. But what if we just left the last letter off of others' names? George Bus? Bra Pitt? Something seems off.

Yes, a name is kinda important. Before Reid was born, we spent about 8 months calling him George before deciding perhaps he was a Reid. It's kind of a big decision, one that can't be taken those wonderful DMV employees, and the Department of Homeland Security, also seem to agree with.

Uh oh, I just realized I mentioned both "George Bush" and "Department of Homeland Security" in this blog...I'm just asking to be watched! Well hopefully the CIA can get my name right...