Three Tools for Consumer Engagement.
By Alexandra Deprez
Thursday, 4th October 2012
In an age full of advertising and media overload, it is often difficult to weed through the bad to get to the trustworthy.

Showcasing the effort your company put into your sustainable products is probably a big goal for you, but what can you do to stand out on a shelf amidst the sea of green everything?

4Hoteliers Image LibraryConsumer demand for environmentally-friendly services and products continues to grow –a recent study shows that a majority of shoppers believe it is important that companies be environmentally-friendly and a third of them are willing to spend more for green products.

Yet this represents only the beginning of a much needed transformation that ought to include sustainable consumption. In fact, a growing number of experts agree that while supply chain and internal operations provide great opportunities for companies to cut costs and reduce environmental impact, they will not lead us to achieve a truly sustainable world without a drastic shift in consumer culture.

Some forward thinking companies—such as Patagonia with its "Do not buy this jacket" ad in the New York Times last Black Friday and its Common Threads Initiative —are recognizing that innovative and effective consumer engagement around the demand side is not only an environmental imperative but also makes great business sense.

Notably, it presents great opportunities to strengthen brand image and increase consumer loyalty –attributes that will become increasingly important as consumption selection criteria shifts away products' low-upfront costs to their overall active life value and efficiency.

Here are three digitally-based tools used to effectively and easily engage with customers on a data-driven basis, while harnessing the power of social media to promote positive behavior reinforcement among consumers:

Carrot Mob leads highly innovative campaigns in which partnering companies pledge to undertake a specific sustainability initiative on the condition that a specified level of sales be reached over a certain time period. After helping organize over 250 successful campaigns with local businesses around the globe, Carrot Mob is now ready to scale up the size and impact of its campaigns, and engage even more consumers to directly "vote with their dollars" for sustainability.

Recyclebank socially and financially incentivizes the mainstream public (4 million members so far) to integrate sustainability into their everyday lives. Recyclebank offers partnered businesses such as Procter & Gamble, General Electric and Unilever a multifaceted media platform from which to publicize their already existing sustainability initiatives in hopes of increasing sales and brand loyalty, among other benefits.

GoodGuide uses publicly available data to rank over 100,000 consumer products in a number of different categories for their overall health, environmental and social impact –making it the largest and most reliable independent product ranking guide.

Consumers can use the browser add-on and smartphone barcode-scanning app to help guide their online and in-store purchases. GoodGuide offers partner companies a platform to advertise their sustainability efforts and highly ranked alternative products to those searched, and has now also started offering consumer product companies advice on how to improve their products' rankings. Retail giants Walmart and Target have recently signed on to have their products ranked.

These are just a few ways for your company to showcase the internal and supply side sustainability efforts you already have in place, as well as help catalyze further change towards sustainable consumption patterns, with transparency at the helm.

This content originally appeared on EDF's Innovation Exchange:

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