Over the past couple of decades, environmentalism has moved from being the domain of a vociferous minority into the mainstream of society, and consequently into almost every business activity. But it still doesn’t appear to have made any significant impact in the worlds of audio, video and lighting (AVL).

Is that because 'being green' has has nothing to offer to AVL, or there’s no demand? Is it seen as a costly luxury the industry can ill-afford to adopt? So is there any point even trying to be green in the first place?

The times, they are a'changing

Being a laggard has certain advantages. For one, it means you can learn from the experiences of others. So I’m going to promote the discussion on what lessons there are to be learnt by looking specifically at the findings of The 2010 Green Brands Survey. This annual worldwide survey is carried by a group of companies in the WPP marketing services group. My company, Linguabrand, contributed to the survey launch presentation made by brand agency Landor Associates. It was given by head of strategy Ian Wood back in June. Ian’s a pragmatic and highly experienced strategist with no drum to bang on green issues per se. His interest is simply how environmentalism affects the management of brands in different industries. I think his analysis extends beyond brand owners, so that distributors, installers and indeed venue owners can learn from his findings. I’ll add some findings from our own analysis of brand language which reveals the agendas of business areas that have some parallels with your own.

Consumers versus business

Over the years The Green Brands Survey demonstrates consumers’ increasing belief in an environmental business agenda. So what impact does that have on a largely business to business sector like AVL? Initially it may be easy to think that it’s relatively limited. But it’s important to recognise that all B2B businesses ultimately rely upon consumer demand. And in a digital world social media is connecting different stakeholders – so supermarkets talk to their customers about their sourcing policies because they care about where their food comes from and how they treat their suppliers. Sports manufacturers have suffered from accusations of use of child labour in football manufacturing in the past. So you have to think about how your business behaves and communicates much more holistically than was the case pre-internet. People are able to look closely at your business and talk to others about it instantly.

For businesses that rely on other businesses, it’s their customers who will drive the demand for greener products and processes. For instance, at Linguabrand we studied the market agenda of the office printing industry by isolating exactly what the likes of Xerox, Canon and Oki were talking about. Top of their market’s agenda were environmental issues. They spoke about them 4.6x as much as any other subject. And the reason was simple – as a business, each brand was painfully conscious that they were at the sharp end of their clients demand to improve their own environmental business performance. So things like paper usage, ink cartridge recycling and energy usage were right up there on their client’s list of things to improve.

So in AVL the demand for increasingly greener products and processes may come from unexpected sources. You may already be seeing environmental performance standards being set for venues, especially those that are publically owned. That’s certainly the case on new-builds, where environmental engineering has been established for many years. Environmental audits are not going to go away. They’ll become more common, and more stringent. So selling into other businesses will offer no protection from green issues. And, as a sector that relies on energy consumption, the finger will be pointing at you sooner rather than later, whichever part of the process you’re involved in.

Leader or a follower?

One of the most important findings of the strategic analysis was that there is a strong correlation between perceptions of greenness and perceptions of leadership. Brands that are considered strong green players are 400% more likely to be considered a leader and 210% more likely to be considered innovative. And it works in reverse, so that absence of green credentials drives negative perceptions.

It’s worth looking a little closer at these negative perceptions. In some sectors, such as power generation and distribution, being green has almost no positive influence. But not being green is a strong factor in rejection. Their consumers expect all companies to be improving their environmental performance. So where does AVL stand at the moment? It some years since I worked directly in the sector, but my guess – which you may well correct – is that there is room to take a leadership position by adopting green processes and driving greener product development. The strategic findings of the survey were that, in relevant sectors, being first at this and telling people about it effectively has a lasting effect. In other words, others will have to spend more catching up with you than you did getting there in the first place.

As people associate leadership with green if you are already a leader you are in the strongest position to take action. If you’re a contender then stepping up to the mark could drive positive perceptions of you beyond the green agenda and enable you to threaten current leaders.

And that’s why there is a point in trying to be green. It’s not going to go away. And if you don’t address it fully then some else will. Who’s up for taking the lead?

Got any more?

There are a couple of other questions it seems a good idea to try and answer: ‘what exactly does “green” mean?’ And ‘how could I make green work for me?’ So these are two areas I’ll be addressing here on Fast-and-Wide. Perhaps you have some other ideas? Or are the above opinions misguided, unclear or stimulating? Let’s get talking. You can contact me here.

TwitterGoogle BookmarksRedditLinkedIn Pin It
Fast-and-Wide.com An independent news site and blog for professional audio and related businesses, Fast-and-Wide.com provides a platform for discussion and information exchange in one of the world's fastest-moving technology-based industries.
Fast Touch:
Author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fast Thinking:Marketing:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: Latitude Hosting