When I went to graduate school, I was given the opportunity to specilize in one of three fields: logistics, marketing, or sustainability. Those of you who know me can probably guess my reaction to the logistics offering - I'm fairly good at it, but I don't enjoy all of the technical aspects that go into planning a supply chain system.
Oddly enough, my reaction to marketing was pretty much the same. At the time I put marketing, sales, and advertising into the same bucket. Swimming around in the muck with them were teleMARKETERS, pyramid scheme scam artists, and a whole bunch of other unsavory characters. That left me with one choice: sustainability.
One of my undergraduate degrees is in political science. Politics is a broad field, but I focused a great deal on international affairs, human rights, and the obligations each generation has to those that came before and those that will follow. Sustainability is, and has always been, right up my alley.
As I started studying it, though, I realized just how disintegrated sustainable thinking was in our business world. We have a handful of companies that hold to certain ideals, but many times these are at the expense of others. Few people truly understand what it means to have a sustainable product or how to fulfill their debt to the global community. This is because sustainability (like my field of expertise-branding) is considered an <em>external</em> endeavor.
In order to be effective, sustainability needs to be marketed both for the masses and for the elite few who make the decisions. It's a product just like any other business concept that took time (or multiple generations) to take hold. This is why I shifted my focus in school from sustainability to marketing-I already understand the concepts of green living, cradle-to-cradle product design, and the triple bottom line. What I needed to learn was how to communicate these ideas to people who want to see potential effects on profit rather than theory-laden white papers.
If you've kept track, there's been a lot of back-and-forth between me and my friend Aaron Daniels over these topics. I sent him a recent article in the Puget Sound Business Journal regarding a potential 20 cent tax on disposable shopping bags. We both hold the same opinions on the idea, but I think there's been a failure in communication on my end when it comes to commenting on those ideas. Hopefully today's post will shed some light on how and why I feel the way I do.