Archive for June, 2012
The Atlantic/Aspen Institute released the results of their 2012 American Values Survey this week. It’s worth a peek if you’ve got a minute or two.
Amid the results, you’ll find the expected: a profound decline in optimism, family trumps everything else, and a widespread view that only the values of the very wealthy are respresented in the political system. Plus first generation immigrants and the wealthy believe the economic system to be fair, while about half of the rest of us do not.
The big takeaway for me is the finding that younger generations may hold the view that what’s good for business is not good for America. This could be profound for major consumer goods manufacturers and financial institutions…unlike their elders, younger generations have shown much more of a predilection for voting with their feet and their dollar.
You can view the results of the study here.
The lure of organic foods grown or produced naturally, free of pesticides, hormones, or other chemicals may be healthier, but what’s it doing to our social life? A recent study reveals that exposure to organic foods may, in fact, make individuals judgmental and more likely to be ‘insufferable.’
The study, directed by Kendall Eskine, assistant professor of the department of psychological science at Loyola University in New Orleans, split up 60 people into three groups, each of which were shown different pictures. The first group viewed pictures of ‘organic foods’ (mainly produce), the second group was shown pictures of comfort foods (brownies, cupcakes, cookies, etc.) and the third group looked at pictures of foods that did not fall into either of the previous categories – foods such as rice, mustard and oatmeal.
Afterwards, the participants were given scenarios then asked to make ‘moral judgments’ on a scale from one to seven. The group exposed to organic images scored the situations highest, proving to be much more judgmental than the other two groups.
Another segment asked the subjects how much time (zero to 30 minutes) they would be willing to help a stranger in need. The organic group appeared to be the most selfish, offering an average of 13 minutes. Nearly doubling that time, the comfort food group said they would volunteer 24 minutes and the non-organic, non-comfort group fell in the middle, offering 19 minutes.
Eskine believes that the exposure to organic foods makes people feel better about themselves, ultimately inclining them to act poorly – a phenomenon he calls ‘moral licensing.’ “It’s like when you go to the gym and run a few miles you feel good about yourself, so you eat a candy bar,” Eskine explains. In other words, by making good decisions when eating, it makes people feel as if that is their ‘good deed of the day,’ giving them permission to behave immorally later on.
We think this study seems a bit far-fetched. After all, the subjects were simply shown pictures of produce they were told were ‘organic.’ But what do you think? Is it organic foods that caused the judgmental and selfish behaviors or perhaps just simply healthier foods? Do the foods we consume help dictate our behavior and morals? Or is it our morals and behavior that dictate which foods we consume? Share your opinion with us!
It’s one of the most intriguing entrants into retail energy… iPowerPlay. This start-up is purportedly bringing electricity consumer engagement into the realm of social and mobile media through a proprietary technology platform that they will also license to other electricity providers.
[Just in case your next move is to go look for their website, keep in mind that iPowerPlay is also the name of an iTunes app you can purchase for ¢.99, as well as the moniker of an Xbox gamer.]
Based on their website, iPowerPlay seeks to be (yet) another “Power to the People” provider who “Makes Energy Easy.” How they will do this is a bit murky at this point. But it’s early days for this new entrant. This June, iPowerPlay filed for an aggregator’s license in Texas, so we may see a nonmunicipal, bulk energy buying model emerge.
Presently, they are conducting an interesting, limited pilot program in California and Texas. By signing up, and giving iPowerPlay access to their smart meter account, homeowners and businesses in select areas can receive social media, email, text, and app alerts every month about their energy usage, and a cash reward for voluntarily (and manually) turning down their air conditioners during peak periods.
Utilities offer this type of program to customers who have to install a special thermostat and allow the utility to automatically turn their air conditioning up during peak usage periods. In exchange, customers earn bill credits. This “big brother” approach is distasteful to many consumers. iPowerPlay’s take may be a more palatable model; however, it’s unclear how and if iPowerPlay can make it profitable.
When your world is a blur of expo floors, faces and business cards, how can you best stand out given the whirlwind of activities that surround you? Here are some trade show tips from CBD to help keep your eye on the ball:
Use Exhibit Design Wisely
According to CBD’s Executive Creative Director, Mary Olivieri, every inch of your exhibit booth is valuable real estate for business messaging. This year, take a step back and evaluate whether your current exhibit is conveying the information you want to resonate. Define your audience early during the design process, and aim to evoke an emotional response. Narrow down the message you would like to communicate, but don’t forget to clearly emphasize your product or service. Color schemes and design should be consistent with your company’s color palette and other marketing collateral—both digital and in print.
While booth activities, promotions and demonstrations are necessary to create the buzz, don’t forget that you need an energetic and well-prepared booth staff to make it a memorable visit. In our experience, it’s always a good investment to conserve your staff’s energy by using agency support. Social media presence, trade media outreach and booth designs are all areas where you can and should consider external expertise. Allow your staff to focus their energies on what they know best—providing a knowledgeable and unforgettable connection with prospects.
The Magic is in the Follow-up
Rather than prioritizing the volume of leads gathered at shows, your goal should be to have year-round follow-up with your new contacts. One affordable and engaging way to stay on a lead’s radar is through a monthly blog or periodic e-newsletter, provided that it is both visual and insightful. If planned strategically, it should take a few hours every month to plan, write, publish and distribute a thoughtful issue electronically. Another neat way to keep up a year-long interaction with your trade show leads is to use free social media tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Keep the conversation light and relevant. Stick to content that best showcases your company’s strengths and services.
With so many grocery products now stamped with “reduced fat,” “low calorie” and “9 grams of fiber” claims, people are growing more and more health-conscious. Consumers are opting to buy organic foods, carefully checking nutrition labels and monitoring what they ingest into their bodies.
In particular, meat is among the food groups in which people are trying to cut back or choose healthier, organic options. News of unhealthy practices in raising livestock and chickens as well as health concerns are common motives that cause even non-vegans to shy away from meat.
In response, food producers are making efforts to deliver healthier products to consumers. Beyond Meat, a vegan start-up company, recently launched veggie chicken at Whole Foods stores in the Northern California region and at two Roots Market locations in Maryland.
In a market worth $340 million, alternatives that have flavor and texture resembling real meat are nearly impossible to find. Perhaps that’s why Twitter co-founders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone (a vegan of ten years), have taken interest in supporting Beyond Meat, which offers plant-based alternatives unlike any in its market.
Beyond Meat’s faux chicken is made mostly from pea and soy powders, carrot protein and gluten-free flour. By taking plant proteins and realigning them to mimic the appearance and mouth-feel of real animal meat, the imposter chicken was even able to fool New York Times’ food columnist, Mark Bittman, in a blind food tasting. According to Ethan Brown, founder of Beyond Meat, their technology can also mimic beef, pork and fish. In fact, Brown hopes to launch Beyond Meat’s second product, fake beef, in the fall.
The alternative chicken is both healthy and tasty —with no saturated or trans fats, gluten, GMOs, cholesterol, dairy, hormones or, of course, meat! A 3-ounce serving of this fake chicken has 19 grams of protein. At just 100 calories, it maintains its delicious flavor and texture as if it was real thing.
It will be interesting to see if William and Stone –the men who transformed the way we communicate (in just 140 characters or less)– can help transform the way we view (and eat) meat. Will you opt to try this new alternative?
I’ve been tracking a number of articles on the start-up Ethical Electric - a retail energy provider set to launch this year. The company is the vision of Tom Matzzie, formerly Washington Director for activist organization MoveOn.org.
The retail energy sector is full to bursting with undifferentiated competitors, and the buzz at industry conferences is all about new business models, the value of brand, and adding products and services. A key opportunity is in niche marketing, and Ethical Electric is one of the first players to enter the fray, although they are likely not looking at it like that.
Instead, their value proposition is formed around a desire to put coal-fired plants out of business. They will offer 100% “clean and green” wind and solar from local sources. They say that a portion of their revenue will go to causes their customers vote on supporting, Plus, their website says, “We help you save energy, save money and do your part to change the world.”
The size of the green energy buyer market is believed to be relatively small today. A lot of the industry insiders I’ve talked to believe consumers simply won’t pay more for green energy. But with the type of inflammatory language and guilt-inspiring messages Ethical Electric seems prepared to use (not to mention the social media marketing savvy of Mr. Matzzie) it will be interesting to observe their tactics. (Indeed, the tone of their website copy is every copywriters dream.)
They may have a bit of an organic search issue, though. Off-the-Grid advocate Dennis Haefner’s site – Ethical Energy – is easily confused with Ethical Electric, as is the UK not-for profit The Ethical Energy Group.
Ethical Electric is one of the growing number of Benefit Corporations springing up. These companies are specifically formed to create measurable public benefits and fund charitable or social causes. Benefit Corporations have the potential to enjoy near-instant credibility and viral growth among consumers disenchanted with the practices of traditional corporations. Learn more about them here.
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008