Guest Column: Being ‘Green’ Not a Priority?
A new challenge faces every businessperson in the marketplace today. The definition of "quality" has changed. There's a new element in the quality formula for products and services of all kinds (including books and magazines): sustainability.
Consumers increasingly make buying decisions based on the environmental impact of their purchases. As the human population and technology put increasingly heavy demands on natural resources, environmental concerns take up more and more space in the daily news. Unfortunately, thanks to population growth and industrial development, that trend is likely to continue, and concern for the environment will grow. The value of sustainable business practices to your marketing efforts and the perceived quality of your product is going to grow as well.
The competitive penalty for paying no attention to sustainability is going to be increasingly painful. Businesses without a sustainability platform will look more and more like dinosaurs complacently chewing their ferns while the glaciers advance.
Every successful brand will, eventually, have to invest in sustainability.
Great companies in every industry are already paying new attention to their provenance, the people and processes through which their products are created, and the implications of those processes for people and the planet. The best marketers are attaching compelling narratives to their products, telling the story of the careful ways they choose suppliers, protect their employees and conserve natural resources.
Few truly sustainable businesses exist today. Almost all of us use more natural resources than we create. Thankfully, we don't have to be perfectly sustainable in order to promote sustainability. Like the camper in grizzly country, we don't have to run faster than the bear. We only have to run faster than the other campers. The sustainability discussion provides a great opportunity for getting ahead of your competitors.
Publishers are not often recognized as champions of the environment. Far too often we seem to be debating the environmentalists. Many publishers and printers, for instance, like to argue against the virtues of recycled paper. My company is one of the largest consumers of recycled magazine paper in North America, but I'm happy to acknowledge that recycled paper is not always better, environmentally, than virgin paper from responsible sources.