Eco-marketing in the great outdoors

Sam Eaton Mar 20, 2008

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: The green movement has created a new generation of eco-conscious consumers. It’s also created a new challenge for marketers. Sam Eaton reports from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk.


Sam Eaton: Environmentally conscious shoppers may be the new darling demographic. But reaching them isn’t easy.

At a recent natural products expo in Anaheim, California thousands of vendors hawked the latest in sport drinks, cosmetics and granola bars. But standing out in the natural products trade has become more difficult, as it’s evolved into $60 billion industry. So the latest trend in eco-marketing is to use the blank slate of the great outdoors.

Like ski resorts. It’s a strategy marketers are calling the new holy grail of advertising.

Brian Martin: You need to find consumers when and where they’re most receptive to messaging.

Brian Martin is founder and CEO of Brand Connections. His company recently launched a network of more than 500 ad venues near parks and ski areas. Everything from plasma screens in the ski line to brochures at posh hotels.

Martin: If you can connect with a consumer with an eco-conscious message when they’re out of doors, it is the perfect moment, because they are enjoying the fruit of their eco consciousness, right? They’re outside.

And they’re feeling good. So if a sign on the back of a ski lift makes them associate an organic fruity drink with that feeling, they’re more likely to buy it by the caseload once they’re back in the city. Or at least that’s the theory.

Marissa Gluck: They run the risk of consumers reacting negatively, regardless of whether or not they have a green message to what’s essentially seen as visual pollution.

Marissa Gluck is a marketing expert at Radar Research. She says companies walk a fine line when they advertise in the great outdoors.

Gluck: It opens you up to a lot more criticism when you use that tactic. You’re opening yourself up to criticism from a group that is intelligent enough to see through BS.

That is, if they’re even noticing. Gluck says consumers have become so inured to advertising that marketers are already searching for the next holy grail: buzz marketing. So instead of billboards pushing products, soon it might be the talkative guy sitting next to you on the ski lift.

In Los Angeles, I’m Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

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