Kick the Habit! World Environment Day

June 5, 2008

I’ve always enjoyed eating meat but have been consciously cutting down my intake not because of some ethical notion nor equally through fear of contracting CJD from imported US beef…  My reason for reducing my meat intake is partly health based but also loosely based on the environmental argument.

Likewise, I now turn off the water when showering as I put on shampoo or lather.  However, I started to do this not because of environmental concerns.  The shower room in my new apartment in Korea actually leaked into my living area.  So to avoid flooding, I avoid the water running too long.  This habit has changed the way I shower everywhere.

Today is “World Environment Day: Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy”.  What creates change; what is the incentive?  I previously worked with Repak, Ireland’s packaging recycling body, for three years and remember attending a breakfast seminar on social behavioural marketing with my former colleague who I worked with on the account.  Our client had informed us that only about 10% of people will ‘do good’ as they see it and recycle without any financial incentive.  With Ireland set targets of recycling 50%, our communications strategy quickly evolved into using social behavioural marketing techniques and articulating the personal financial incentives to encourage the general public to recycle more.  The focused campaign was successful and Ireland met and exceeded its tough targets a year ahead of schedule.

Germany is an acknowledge leader when it comes to the environment and propogating the movement over the last 20 years.  This is because of bottom-up people power.  This is less visible in Korea, and in other Asian countries according to my colleagues in Edelman’s Clean Tech practice.  I was warmed today to see entire pull-outs in both the Chosun Ilbo and Joongang Ilbo, two of Korea’s biggest newspapers who have also recently taken up environmental campaigns themselves, the Chosun focusing on ways to reduce packaging and sporting a new green logo on its front.  Conergy (disclosure: current client) is building Asia Pacific’s biggest solar power plant in SinAn, Korea and POSCO announced yesterday (see and search for POSCO Taps Solar Energy for the article) that it is using its roofs for generating solar power also.  This is all down to the feed-in-tariff structures the government has established and there is real momentum appearing to happen within industry, at least. 

The next trick, however, is to articulate the incentives to the Korean public in a language or in the terms that are relevant to them.  What’s their leaking shower moment!?!  That’s how to kick the habit.


Responsible Conduct is a Basic Expecation

May 30, 2008

Interesting article — Does Being Ethical Pay? — in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal on corporate reputation, based on some simple but decent controlled research.  It concludes:

“Companies should segment their market and make a particular effort to reach out to buyers with high ethical standards, because those are the customers who can deliver the biggest potential profits on ethically produced goods.”

The article also points out what our global CSR lead, Chris Deri, would call an “Irresponsibility Discount.”  His view is that the research seems to identify a material discount and negative correlation between irresponsible company conduct and consumer consideration and purchase behaviour.  He would also point out that the research, however, doesn’t actually uncover a significant halo effect for products considered ‘ethically sound.’  This seems to imply that responsible conduct has merely become one of the basic expectations for products, like quality, price and consistency.