How To Use Offsets In your Marketing

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As consumers become more jaded about claims of greenness, companies that care about communicating their sustainability activities are looking for ways to credibly stand out. When done thoughtfully, the marketing of carbon neutralizing offset programs can be an excellent way to get your point across.

The travel industry has been a big adopter in the marketing of carbon neutrality. Expedia.com gives consumers the option to purchase TerraPass carbon offsets for the carbon emissions of flights. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car also provide similar options for car rentals. But these program are no-brainers as the consumer bears the cost of the offsets.

The newest generation of offsets marketing includes the integration of offsets into the product itself — no opt-in necessary and at no additional cost to the consumer. This new wave of marketing often involves on-packaging communication of the company’s offset programs and there are a few standouts. Bloomsberry & Co. has partnered with TerraPass to create Climate Change Chocolate, an incredibly tasty chocolate bar that includes in the price of every bar 133 lbs of verified TerraPass carbon offsets (133 lbs being the average American’s daily carbon impact.)

Another good example is, Cono Sur wines. They are merchandised with individual bottle tags touting their “drink green” carbon neutral delivery program whereby the CO2 emissions from the shipping of their wines (from Chile) have been calculated and are being offset. One failing in this program, however, is that its virtually impossible to determine the details of the program like who calculated their CO2 output and who is providing the offsets. I’d like to see more about how they back up their claims, but nevertheless the idea is a good one.

These marketers are using their offset activities to position their products as sustainable in a way that is integrated and makes the benefits immediately clear to consumers. At the same time, they are not subordinating their product benefits, superior chocolate or quality wine, in the process. They are cleverly and appropriately bundling the offset message with the product message.

Integrated, on-package marketing is an excellent way to communicate your company’s efforts toward sustainability. Of course, you need to be clear and accurate when substantiating your carbon offset claims. That said, if can figure out a way to do it, using your offset message in your marketing can help you stand apart — and above — the competition.

Anyone already using integrated offsets marketing? Please share your experience!

Photo: Bloomsbury & Co.

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