Why Even the God-Fearing Should Believe It’s Up to Us to Halt Climate Change

September 10, 2017

God’s creation is on the brink of destruction, potentially at biblical proportions. Scientists say we have as little as three years to stabilize the climate or risk environmental catastrophe. Others say that climate change is already upon us, contributing to flooding that reached ‘unprecedented’ levels in Bangladesh, Nepal, India and now Texas this year.

Some people believe that it’s beyond our power to harm the climate, and even if we could, God would intervene before climate change destroys our world.

There is scant hard evidence though that a divine being participates so directly in human affairs, at least in modern times. Human misery caused by natural disasters, civil wars and genocide seem to go unchecked by Providence. 1.4 billion people are expected to lose their homes by 2060, largely due to rising seas. Most of these people will feel as if their world has been destroyed. If God did not stop these previous tragedies, why do we expect Him to intervene now?

I believe in an inspirational God, rather than an interventionist one. This means turning to God for guidance on how to live life with a higher purpose. This also means taking action to fulfill this calling with the tools at our disposal. As the parable goes, when God sends a canoe, a motorboat and a helicopter to pull us from the flood, He is not ignoring our calls for help, but rather answering our prayers — by providing us with the means to help ourselves.

Like with other natural disasters, God is not going to swoop down and halt climate change. Instead, we must be inspired by a higher purpose — saving the planet for future generations — to do so ourselves. This means eliminating our carbon footprint, and convincing others to do the same. We already have the tools and technologies to do this. Instead of canoes, motorboats and helicopters, we have renewable energy, electric cars and building insulation. It’s time for all of us to act.

–Originally published on Medium, 2017

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How to be a trusted messenger on climate change

September 10, 2017

A recent study indicates that only 40 percent of Americans believe that they will be harmed personally by climate change. Instead, most of us view climate change as a phenomenon that will affect people in another region or a future generation.

Such detachment makes it challenging to motivate meaningful action to reduce climate change. Generally speaking, we are more inclined to act if we believed our personal well-being is threatened.

Such beliefs are not all that surprising, though, as most of us go about our daily lives insulated from changes that are happening in the natural world.

And, when we do experience Mother Nature’s wrath, we have a hard time telling whether human beings bear some of the blame. This is especially true when effects are transient. On one day, temperatures may set a record. On the next day, they swing back to within seasonal norms.

Even extreme weather isn’t persuasive. Because storms are so familiar to us, we tend to discount evidence that climate change is increasing their intensity and frequency. Moreover, the passage of time makes it all but impossible for us to objectively compare any two events. And when we try, our memories easily can fool us, as it’s easy to exaggerate past events in our minds — extreme weather included. Remember, the fish grows bigger every time a fish story is told.

The local angle

Unbeknownst to most of us, however, climate change is already affecting our lives and our local communities. This impact tends to vary greatly by person and by region. Some of us have experienced only minor inconveniences, while others have seen our income, health or way of life compromised.

Here are a few examples:

  • In Florida and along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic seaboard, drivers often find coastal roads not passable because king tides flood them even on sunny days.
  • From Minnesota to Maine, moose hunters find the number of permits halved as populations decline. Warmer winters compromise moose survival by allowing ticks to gorge unchecked on their blood.
  • In the Upper Midwest, allergies sufferers contend with allergy seasons that are lasting a month longer than before.
  • In the Carolinas, commercial fishermen must steam hundreds of miles farther to catch local fish that have migrated north seeking cooler waters.
  • In Alaska, homeowners find their foundations are no longer stable but tilting and collapsing as the underlying permafrost melts.
  • In Louisiana, coastal property owners find their land no longer livable, but instead continuously flooded as sea levels rise. Now, residents are relocating to higher ground.
  • In Montana, anglers no longer find trout at familiar places along the river, but upstream in cooler headwaters. Local guides lose money when streams are closed because warmer water temperatures put too much stress on the fish that remain.
  • From New Jersey to Florida, home prices in flood-prone areas have fallen as flood insurance premiums rise. Investors across the country buy mortgage-backed securities that do not price in the risk that rising seas pose to coastal property values.

Despite these impact, many of us are not aware of their connection to climate change. Communicators have an opportunity to make that connection, and by doing so, motivate action to reduce climate change’s impact. Here are three ways how:

Local impact. Climate change already has caused harm to people in many local communities. Some recognize the impact, while others only sense that something has changed. Most do not yet attribute what is happening to a changing climate. Communicators have the opportunity to engage people about climate impact, particularly those living in affected areas. One way to do so is to contrast how things were before with how they are now, and explain the role that the climate has had in making this change happen.

Trusted messengers. Climate change clearly has become a politicized issue. One way to overcome this is to tap messengers that are trusted across the political divide. For example, when it comes to the impact of climate change on human health, primary care physicians (PDF) enjoy significant public trust regardless of someone’s personal beliefs on the issue. Arguably, local guides, fishermen and others in the community whose livelihoods have been affected by climate change would make compelling messengers, too.

Broad storytelling. People who have been personally affected by climate change have a story to tell. Communicators should encourage everyone to share their stories on social media (tweet every time you witness climate change impact) or with neighbors. The more that we document the harm that climate change is having in our communities, the more compelling the message will be to those still on the fence.

Today, many of us have been personally harmed by climate change, although we might not recognize the cause. Communicators can best engage people if they focus on the impact that it has had in our local communities, and do so through a trusted messenger that transcends the political divide.

–Originally published on Greenbiz, 2017


Outdoor recreation can’t beat the heat of climate change

September 10, 2017

In Montana and similar big-sky places across the U.S., outdoor recreation is core both to the local economy and a way of life. Climate change is beginning to undermine this as it alters the natural systems and habitats that outdoor recreation depends upon. 

Many product companies and resort destinations are positioned to adapt to this change. Others businesses, including local outfitters and guides, may not be as fortunate. Regardless, all companies have the opportunity to take a leadership role in responding to climate change, and in the process, to help preserve a way of life that dates back generations.

Outdoor recreation economy

Outdoor recreation represents a significant share of the U.S. economy: $646 billion in annual spending that supports more than 6.1 million direct — and countless more indirect  jobs. Spending includes $120 billion on outdoor recreation products and $543 billion for trips and travel-related spending.

Climate change is expected to affect this. While comprehensive national studies are hard to come by, state-level impact has been documented. Take Montana. Today, the economic contribution (PDF) of outdoor recreation in that state is significant: $5.8 billion in consumer spending and 64,000 jobs — or more than 12 percent of total employment across the state. According to a recent report (PDF) prepared for the Montana Wildlife Federation, climate change is expected to eliminate 11,000 jobs related to outdoor recreation, or one in six in the state.  

Jobs are only part of what is at risk. Nearly three-quarters of all Montana residents (PDF) participate in outdoor activities each year, one of the highest participation rates of any state. Climate change is forecasted (PDF) to have a dramatic impact on this and expected to cause a 33 percent decline in snow sports, a 15 percent decline in big game hunting and a 33 percent drop in angler days.

Adapting to climate change

Certain outdoor recreation companies are better positioned than others to adapt to climate change. For example, product companies can diversify their product lines, such as reducing their dependence on cold-weather products. Columbia Sportswear, a leading outdoor apparel company, recently acquired PrAna, a yoga and climbing apparel company. Newell Rubbermaid recently floated the idea of selling off winter sports brands that it acquired with Jarden this year.

Similarly, ski resorts are making investments to attract visitors year round. For example, Big Sky Resorts in Montana made investments in warm weather activities such as bike trails and zip lines. Last year, summer revenue was up 10 percent.

Mitigating impact

When it comes to climate change, adaption is not the only thing product companies and resorts can do; they also can take a leadership role to help mitigate it. This means reducing impact across their supply chains — from the sourcing of materials to selling products at retail.

One way to do so is by having more companies adopt the Higgs Indexto guide internal decision-making and vendor selection. Another way is by encouraging more companies to switch to renewable energy to power their facilities.

Climate action should not just be limited to operational decisions. Climate leadership also means being more transparent with consumers. One way to do so is by transforming the Higgs Index into a consumer-facing label in order to allow consumers to make their preferences known with their wallets.

While product manufacturers and resorts are positioned to take action, other types of businesses such as fishing outfitters and guides are in more precarious positions, as their prosperity is highly dependent on the health of local rivers.

Last summer, for example, many of Montana’s rivers were subject to “hoot-owl” fishing restrictions from afternoon until midnight when higher-than-normal heat put excessive stress on cold water fish. Those that remained open ended up overcrowded with anglers.  

Worse, climate change is impacting the aquatic habitats where Montana’s prized trout live. As temperatures rise, warm water fish such as the smallmouth bass are moving upstream into higher elevations, encroaching upon trout that thrive in colder headwaters.

Dan Vermillion, chairman of the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission and owner of a local fly fishing guide company, reported that smallmouth were being caught along stretches of the Yellowstone River which were 1,000 feet higher in elevation than previously recorded. Last summer, a parasite caused a massive fish kill in the Yellowstone. The primary reasons for the outbreak: “near-record low [water] flows and warm water temperatures.”

Today, many anglers still attribute poor river conditions to bad luck, rather than a changing environment. Climate change awareness is growing, however, as occurrences happen more frequently. As it does, outdoor destinations will end up with fewer customers as visitors shift their travel plans elsewhere.

Certainly, local actions can mitigate some impacts from climate change. In fact, the Northern Adaptation Partnership, a collaborative effort that includes 16 National Forests and three National Parks across Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, has created a comprehensive plan (PDF) to do just that. Mitigation efforts along local streams include restoring floodplains, reducing habitat fragmentation and increasing tree shade adjacent to streams. 

Educating consumers

Despite these efforts, most fishing outfitters and guides will remain largely dependent on local conditions for their livelihood, and have limited ways to mitigate the impact. One thing that outfitters can do is to educate their customers as to how climate change is affecting local ecosystems. In fact, such efforts could be quite effective, as studies suggest that “perceived personal experiences” with climate change have a greater influence on consumer attitudes than even previously held beliefs.  

Of course, some may see such a move as risky as it might discourage some visitors from returning. But, it is equally probable that it will prompt more people to visit places such as Montana before outdoor conditions get decidedly worse.

–Originally published on Greenbiz, 2016


Can Hollywood save us from climate catastrophe?

September 10, 2017

By taking on the link between football and brain injuries, the recently released movie “Concussion” reminds us of the potential for Hollywood to shape attitudes and beliefs about controversial topics through entertainment.

The film has put America’s most popular sport under a microscope and sparked a dialogue about children participating in contact sports and the role of the National Football League in preventing injuries to its players.

Certainly, there is the potential for a similar movie to be made about climate change — one that builds on “An Inconvenient Truth” and speaks to a new generation.

Perhaps it’s a film about a whistleblower who stands up to oil company executives, who have known since the 1970s that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming. Such a movie would confront head-on the impact that our car culture is having on global warming.

But movie dramas that directly tackle a controversial topic might not actually be the best way to appeal to a broader audience. While lackluster box office receipts for “Concussion” simply might reflect a crowded field, it also may reflect a public reticent to confront a controversy that taints a beloved sport, especially one so core to our identity as Americans.

Apocalypse now

While a similar claim could be made about “An Inconvenient Truth,” this may not be a universal truth about climate change movies in general.  In fact, one could argue that Hollywood has had more success in tackling climate change as an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic story.

“The Day After Tomorrow,” a movie where ice sheet melting shuts down thermohaline circulation in the oceans, resulting in the rapid onset of a new ice age, was the No. 9 highest-grossing disaster movie of all time. “Waterworld,” where humanity is forced to live on water when melting ice caps raise sea levels high enough to flood all land, was the 11th highest grossing “post-apocalypse” movie (adjusted for 2015 dollars).

Such movies are not made without criticism, given the artistic license taken to tell such doomsday stories.

Some from the scientific community argue that interjecting Hollywood into the climate debate may be a bad thing, as it could further blur the lines between fact and fiction, especially with a public that remains skeptical of science.

But, with a public that holds views on climate change that largely align with political affiliation, Hollywood might offer a rare opportunity to cut across these lines with a message that is both entertaining and eye-opening. Indeed, there is already evidence that movies such as “The Day After Tomorrow” can change consumer attitudes and beliefs about climate change.

According to a study (PDF) conducted by Anthony Leiserowitz at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, viewing “The Day After Tomorrow” increased movie watcher “concern” and “worry” over climate change. Not only did movie watchers say they were more likely to purchase a fuel efficient car and share their concerns with politicians, but they were also more willing to talk about global warming with their friends and family, reflecting the increased importance that movie watchers placed on this issue.

Flipping the script

Given the past financial success of such doomsday stories, one might think that moviemakers would be clamoring for new scripts. Today, there is increasing awareness of climate change impact among Americans, especially given the extreme weather events occurring across the U.S. as a result of a usually strong El Niño this year.

This type of script would be especially appealing to Millennials, who are especially passionate about this issue and remain a coveted target audience for studios.

As scientists learn more about the potential impacts of climate change, more stories are emerging that easily could be spun to read like nightmarish sci-fi movies. Here are a few examples:

  • Ancient bacteria brought back to life as glacier ice melts cause pandemic
  • Global food stocks collapse from widespread drought, ocean acidification that dissolves shellfish and the spread of neurotoxins in fish, unraveling social order and leading to war, or worse, nuclear confrontation
  • Rising temperatures shut down photosynthesis by phytoplankton, the source of most breathable oxygen on earth, suffocating all life

In the “Terminator” movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger saved humankind from apocalypse by traveling back in time to change the course of human history before it was too late.

Perhaps when it comes to climate change, Hollywood can inspire humanity to save itself the first time around so it doesn’t have to rely on time travel as a last-ditch effort.

— Originally published on Greenbiz, 2016


What Green Businesses Can Learn from Obama’s Campaign

December 14, 2012

Although President Barack Obama ran a successful campaign and won a decisive electoral-college victory, the margin in key battleground states was slight. Indeed, a shift of 407,000 votes across four of them — Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Virginia — would have given Mitt Romney the 69 electoral votes he needed for victory.

Big data has been touted as key to Obama’s victory — and securing winning margins in swing states — by enabling the campaign to focus scarce resources on voters who could be persuaded to vote for Obama and, once persuaded, were likely to actually vote.

Critical to this effort was the Obama campaign’s recognition that voters may be demographically similar while at the same time strikingly different when it came to the issues that they cared about. As Dan Wagner, the campaign‘s chief analytics officer, told The Los Angeles Times, “White suburban women? They’re not all the same. The Latino community is very diverse with very different interests. What the data permits you to do is figure out that diversity.”

For the Obama campaign, a key to victory was to precisely understand which issue would be most persuasive to a voter’s choice and then microtarget like-minded voters with messaging that relayed the President’s stance on the issue and his action plan to address the issue going forward.

Underpinning this effort by the campaign was market research to determine the precise issue that most effectively influenced voter decisions — and which voters cared about which issues. The campaign also targeted known supporters, asking them to reach out to Facebook friends in swing states in hopes of influencing their voting decisions.

Such microtargeting is not limited to campaigns. Companies can also use this approach to identify and shape green brand preferences, and ultimately, purchase decisions. Here is how:

Focus on consumer persuadability. Politicians are known for boasting to voters about what they have done while in office and expecting voter support in return. This is similar to how many brands tout their green accomplishments today: more recyclable, safer chemicals, reduced material content. But, as in politics, such accomplishments may not be relevant to consumers, green or otherwise. Nor are they necessarily factors that influence brand preference and choice.

In contrast, the Obama campaign had a laserlike focus on the issues most associated with influencing voter decisions. Brands can learn from such an approach. By determining not only what consumers care about but also prioritizing messaging to focus on those needs most associated with consumer preference and choice, brands can have greater impact for a given investment. In each case, market research is required to reveal what cares or needs have the most influence on preference and choice and for which audiences.

Method’s recent Clean Happy video campaign illustrates such an approach. The campaign targets household decision-makers and focuses on a broad range of consumer cares and needs and how Method’s products deliver on each.

For example, one video titled “Clean Like a Mom” promotes Method household cleaning products that contain safer chemicals than traditional cleaners. But, instead of focusing exclusively on product attributes, the video highlights how Method products address specific consumer cares, namely, kids’ safety and the desire by moms to be perceived by their peers as doing the right thing. Presumably, Method did market testing and found out that with moms, these issues motivated greater brand preference and choice than alternatives.

Interestingly, green marketers can effectively influence consumer behavior even if consumers do not consider themselves to be green. One dramatic example comes from a Yale University/George Mason survey that segmented Americans based on their attitudes toward climate change.

The survey revealed that two consumer segments — the one most alarmed by and the one most dismissive of climate change — were the most future-oriented in terms of their outlook. Such attitudinal similarities provide a potential opening for marketers to try a more future-focused message when selling greener products to these segments despite their polar opposite views on climate change.

Be true to your brand. Some politicians try to reinvent themselves in order to tell voters what they want to hear. Arguably, this is similar to a brand that wants to engage consumers on green issues but is not currently perceived in the market as being green.

Brands do not necessarily have to be known for being green in order to be relevant to consumers. Instead, brands should tell their story in a way that is true to their existing brand positioning.

Unilever’s Axe is a great example. Known as an irreverent brand that uses the sex appeal of its products to drive sales, Axe launched its “ Showerpooling” campaign to engage its customer base on the issue of water conservation. The platform uses showerpooling — sharing showers — not only as a way to grab attention, but to make it relevant with the audience. The campaign jokes: “It’s not just environmentally friendly … it’s all kind of friendly.”

Target microsegments. The Obama campaign identified microsegments through research and projected these against a database of registered voters in a nationwide effort to influence voter choice. Of course, marketers could develop their own database by encouraging consumers to sign up for ongoing communications from a company.

But, even without a database, marketers can certainly target microsegments online. This can be done by targeting green consumers on contextually relevant sites, retargeting those visitors elsewhere online or by partnering with a demand side platform to identify and target audiences with like-minded profiles regardless of where they go online.

Turn loyalists into influencers. The Obama campaign successfully tapped its supporters to motivate friends in swing states to vote. Similarly, advertising campaigns should activate loyal customers to serve as influencers and advocates for the brand. Method deployed a similar approach in its recent campaign by distributing fun videos through social sites such as YouTube and Facebook and providing incentives for viewers to share them.

The Obama campaign demonstrated the power of microtargeting to influence voters, and arguably, affected the outcome of the election through this technique. Obama’s success was bolstered by focusing on specific issues most influential with specific voters, rather than a more general message. Such a campaign provides many lessons for green marketers — as well as the opportunity to take a similar approach to drive adoption of green products.


Growing Business Opportunities in Home Lighting, Heating

November 10, 2012

A ban on incandescent light bulbs took effect in the European Union last month, making more efficient lighting technologies — including compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) — standard across Europe. Such a milestone reminds us that market shifts — whether spurred by regulation or innovation — open up new opportunities for businesses to sell greener products and services to consumers.

Many of these emerging opportunities focus on efficient home energy solutions for consumers. Here are two that businesses should consider:

Next-generation lighting

The European Union isn’t the only region phasing out traditional incandescent lightbulbs. In 2007, the United States passed a similar regulation that effectively eliminates many of those bulbs by January of 2014. Initially, this mandate spurred demand for CFLs, likely from niche consumers willing to pay a higher price for an emerging technology that promised lower electrical usage and longer product life. But, since 2008, CFL purchases have declined each year, despite a precipitous drop in price.

Today, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, two thirds of the energy savings potential from CFLs has yet to be realized. As such, with the U.S. pulling out of the recession and consumers more willing to open their wallets, businesses have an opportunity to spur demand for next-generation lighting products.

Retailers are showing renewed interest in efficient bulbs. Ace Hardware, for example, recently declared Oct. 18 to be Annual Light Bulb Day to raise national awareness for CFLs and other lighting technologies. It also offered discounts on purchases to motivate foot traffic and drive sales.

Alternatively, Ikea has chosen to bypass CFLs: It plans to stock LEDs exclusively by 2016 because it believes the rapidly evolving technology will likely outperform CFLs in the near future. By picking a winner in the lighting category, IKEA generated a lot of buzz for its stores and interest in this emerging technology.

Utilities and utility regulatory boards are also spurring demand as they comply with state energy-efficiency mandates. For example, Efficiency Vermont, an organization authorized and funded by the Vermont Public Service Board to promote energy efficiency, launched a successful campaign to increase the use of CFLs. The campaign tackled the perception that CFLs were more expensive by advertising 99-cent bulbs available at participating retailers. It also created a sense of urgency (“good while supplies last”) to drive demand. The campaign was so successful that it doubled the number of CFLs sold per month.

Natural-gas home heating

Meanwhile, another home-energy opportunity is emerging: converting home heating systems from heating oil to natural gas. Not only would shifting to natural gas greatly reduce carbon emissions and improve local air quality, but — in most cases where gas lines are nearby — would also generate very positive returns for homeowners.

Technology innovation is precipitating this opportunity by unlocking vast amounts of natural gas in shale formations across the country. Many such formations are concentrated in the northeast, a region that historically has relied more on heating oil, partly because of the region’s limited pipeline capacity for bringing gas from the Gulf of Mexico. With natural gas supplies increasing, the residential price has dropped dramatically from its peak in 2005-2006.

Simultaneously, the residential price of heating oil has grown dramatically, providing even more incentive for households to switch to natural gas. In fact, according to the Energy Department, the average heating-oil-heated household now spends more than three times as much on heating ($2,298) as the average natural-gas-heated household ($724).

Of course, many of the developments in natural gas are the result of hydrofracking, a controversial extraction process. Many believe that hydrofracking risks contaminating aquifers used for drinking water, although the degree of risk is up for debate. And while greener fracking technologies are emerging, they haven’t yet reached commercial scale. Still, the benefits of shifting away from heating oil to natural gas may outweigh the costs.

If shale gas extraction continues, there are many ways that businesses can promote natural gas conversion to consumers. Certainly, energy companies can motivate their own customers to make the switch through the use of incentives. Utilities such as Con Edison are already helping to coordinate clusters of property owners to convert together, thereby lowering the upfront costs for individual customers.

Banks also can promote natural gas conversions by extending loans to help consumers make the switch. One such loan program by People’s United Bank covers the upfront conversion costs for Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas customers.

Market shifts in regulation and technology are enabling new opportunities to provide efficient home energy solutions for consumers. Many businesses are already starting to take advantage of this. Those that aren’t yet should take note: As the U.S. continues to emerge from the recession, consumer appetite for such solutions is only likely to increase.


Pinterest Emerging as Promising Platform for Green Marketers

October 16, 2012

Over the past 12 months, Pinterest has witnessed explosive growth. The site has topped 23 million unique visitors and average site visit time is nearly 100 minutes per month, making it one of the largest and most engaging social networks around. AdAge raves that “…Pinterest has gone from relative obscurity to exalted status alongside Facebook and Twitter…”

What is so compelling about Pinterest is its simplicity, empowering users to capture, curate and share content of interest at the click of a button. Moreover, its format allows users to easily browse and discover new content pinned by other users.

Brands, including green brands, are increasingly discovering the potential of Pinterest and finding ways to adapt this consumer-centric platform for their benefit.

Promote discovery. Consumers like to browse Pinterest and, while doing so, are discovering brands. Brands are maximizing their chance of being discovered by finding ways to distribute their content on Pinterest.

One way to accomplish this is for brands to directly curate their own Pinterest content. Additionally, brands can make truly compelling content available online. This could include visually powerful images on relevant and timely themes that the growing number of Pinterest users may find and pin onto their personal boards. Consumers can discover content on their own or be encouraged through contests like the one that Method deployed to incentivize Moms to pin images of Method products.

Strengthen brand identity. Companies are also finding ways to leverage Pinterest to help define their brands. They do so by using the Pinterest platform to distribute content that brings to life their brands — or core values.

Whole Foods, for example, says they are committed to “selling the highest quality natural and organic products available”. For Whole Foods, such a commitment originates in the garden where the food is grown and pays off through the appeal of the dish that is ultimately served and the healthier lifestyle to which the food contributes. Pinterest boards sponsored by Whole Foods bring each of these dimensions to life.

Highlight social responsibility. Pinterest can also enable brands to highlight its commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) in a very visible and compelling way. In addition to its other Pinterest initiatives, Whole Foods maintains a Pinterest board dedicated to the Whole Planet Foundation and its many initiatives sponsored around the world. Images map where contributions are made and illustrate the good works that are done in a format that seems, in many ways, less constrained or forced than the Corporate Social Responsibility tab on their corporate site.

Drive sales. Eco-friendly brands are also beginning to experiment with social networks to drive sales, and Pinterest is emerging as a key option. When looking at click-through rates to retail sites from the top three social networks — Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter — Facebook continues to drive the vast majority of traffic but Pinterest exceeds Twitter in terms of traffic generation. In fact, Pinterest is now responsible for more than 11 percent of user shopping sessions originating from the top social networks — Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Moreover, sales conversion rates for users originating from Pinterest are trending higher than from Twitter. At $169, the average order size of Pinterest users is substantially greater than for users that originate from either Facebook ($95) or Twitter ($71).

Brands like eBay are taking note, promoting eco-friendly products across a myriad of Pinterest boards, including health and beauty, fashion and electronics, and providing each product image with a direct link to a transaction page within the eBay Green site.

For green marketers, Pinterest provides a promising platform to engage consumers and for consumers to discover brands that they might not ordinarily interact with. Pinterest’s unique format provides the opportunity for companies to show their brands to consumers in a visually powerful way. Such interactions can provide dimension to a brand and can potentially drive sales. Green brands will be missing a key emerging opportunity online if they fail to consider their own Pinterest strategy.


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