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技术 - 财富绿色头脑风暴

绿色先锋的八大特征

Seth Goldman 2012年05月02日

有机饮料制造商Honest Tea的总裁塞思•戈德曼参加了上个月在加州举办的《财富》绿色头脑风暴会议,本文是他从小商业的角度谈什么是绿色先锋企业。

    上周,我在加州拉古那尼克参加了《财富》杂志“绿色头脑风暴”(Brainstorm Green)会议的小组讨论。同时参加小组讨论的还有Method的联合创始人兼Greenskeeper亚当•劳瑞以及gDiapers 的联合首席执行官杰森•格雷汉姆-奈尔。

    此次讨论帮助我们理解了绿色先锋意味着什么。当然,首先是提供挑战主流的产品。Method颠覆了香皂、清洁剂等日用品的概念,将高性能的环保产品与时尚个性融合。gDiapers提供的可冲尿片阻断了源源不断的尿片垃圾,如今尿片已成为全球垃圾填埋第三大来源。我的公司受到瞩目是因为我们提供低糖有机饮品,先是针对成人的Honest Tea,接着是面向更广大人群的Honest Ade和Honest Kids。

    一旦我们的产品上市后,我们每家公司都主要通过草根营销发展。说草根营销是战略决策或许好听些,但事实上我们三家公司都没有进行真正营销推广的预算。因此,我们依赖口口相传。消费者用了我们的产品后,就成为我们的宣传员——把我们的产品介绍给他们的朋友,有时还会骚扰一下店员,因为他们没有及时补充我们的产品库存。

    我们和消费者的关系都不同于一般产品买卖的交易关系。gDiapers把一次办公室开放日活动变成了留宿晚会,很多母亲和婴儿从全美各地飞到俄勒冈州波特兰,庆贺她们共同的坚持成就了环保事业。Method与成千上万名、充满激情的People Against Dirty宣传者进行每日对话。近日,有一位宣传者认为,向女朋友求婚的最佳地点是Method的旧金山办公室,在整个公司面前(他求婚了,她答应了!)。至于Honest Tea,4月30日我们将在纽约时代广场举行Great Recycle(完成30英尺高的回收桶)将吸引纽约市和全美数千位消费者,我们希望能提高回收率。

    绝非巧合的是我们在初创阶段都得到了天使投资者的支持。这类耐心的、非侵入性的资本让我们有信心继续摸爬滚打,而大部分机构投资者会引导管理层走上更传统的发展道路。如果我们给出更甜、更便宜的配方,Honest Tea本可以发展得更快,但因为我们坚持低糖、有机配方,我们给拥挤的饮品架注入了有意义的差异化。

    在某种意义上,我们都是竞争对手的非官方研发部门。继Method之后,已有很多传统清洁公司进入了绿色领域,正是由于Method的不断创新,整个洗衣液产品变得更加绿色。gDiapers首创设计师尿布(正如澳大利亚人这么称呼它们),帮宝适(Pampers)和其他公司群起而效仿。当我们的创新饮料开始流行,CapriSun将平均卡路里含量从100降至了75,支持饮料袋行业的创新变革。我们都相信,模仿不仅是一种认同,也符合我们更广泛的目标,引导我们的行业向着更可持续的道路发展。

    Last week I participated in a panel on Green Insurgents at Fortune's Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel, California. My fellow panelists were Adam Lowry, co-founder and Greenskeeper of Method and Jason Graham-Nye, dad/co-CEO of gDiapers.

    The discussion helped illuminate what it means to be a Green Insurgent, beyond of course the obligatory funky job titles, (according to this TeaEO). Clearly, it starts with offering products that challenge mainstream offerings. Method hijacked the stale category of soaps and cleansers by combining fashion and style with high-performing, eco-friendly products. gDiapers changed the waste stream of diapers by offering a flushable alternative to a category that is the third largest contributor to landfills around the world. And my company rose to prominence by offering lower-sugar organic drinks first for adults with Honest Tea, then to the broader population, with Honest Ade and Honest Kids.

    Once our products were launched, we each grew primarily through grassroots marketing. While it might be quaint to think this was a strategic decision, none of us had the budget for a real advertising campaign. As a result, we grew through word-of-mouth. Consumers adopted us as their own and became advocates for us – forcing our products on their friends, and occasionally harassing store personnel who failed to restock our products.

    We've each taken the special relationships with our consumers beyond just the transactional relationship of selling and buying product. For gDiapers an office open house turned into a slumber party, with moms and babies, flying into Portland, OR from all over the country to celebrate their shared commitment to a lighter environmental footprint. For Method, it means a daily dialogue with thousands of their most passionate advocates, the People Against Dirty. Recently, one advocate decided the perfect place to propose to his girlfriend would be in Method's offices in San Francisco, in front of the whole company (he did, and she said yes!). For Honest Tea, our Great Recycle in Times Square on April 30 (complete with 30 foot high recycling bin) will engage thousands of consumers in NYC and around the country as we seek to boost recycling rates.

    Not coincidentally, we were all supported by angel investors during our start-up phases. This kind of patient, non-invasive capital helped give us the confidence to go out further on limbs, whereas the general trend of institutional investors is to steer management toward more conventional paths to growth. Honest Tea would have grown faster if we had created sweeter and cheaper recipes, but because we stuck to low-sugar, organic formulations, we developed a meaningful point of differentiation on congested beverage shelves.

    We have all served as unofficial R&D units for our competitors. Method has seen a wave of conventional cleaning companies enter the green space, and the entire laundry detergent category has now concentrated to a greener format in part due to method's innovation. gDiapers started the idea of designer nappies (as the Aussies call them), and saw Pampers and others follow its lead. And CapriSun lowered its average calorie count from 100 to 75, and supported drink pouch collection brigades, once our innovations started to gain traction. We all agreed that mimicry is not only a form of flattery, but consistent with our broader goals of steering our industries toward a more sustainable path.

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