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The Dallas Morning News reports that Walmart is continuing its push into more and better environmentally themed marketing, and “is telling its suppliers that it's not enough to simply provide eco-friendly products. The world's largest retailer wants to be able to tell its customers the stories behind the products, of how they came to be and how sustainable they are … Wal-Mart has been putting increasing emphasis on ways it can be environmentally friendly and ways that sustainable methods can lower costs. From motion detectors that turn on lights only when customers are in the aisle to fuel conservation to innovations in packaging, the company has been approaching the effort from multiple angles.”

According to the story, Walmart has created four points of emphasis when it comes to sustainability – waste reduction/recycling, natural resources, energy, and social/community impact. The retailer has given manufacturers a deadline – August 18 – by which time they need to submit products to be included in next year’s Earth Month promotion; the products will be chosen base don how they relate to the various points of emphasis, and how their individual stories can be told to consumers.

KC's View:
Walmart is smart enough to know that “green” isn’t just something you pay lip service to, and isn’t something to which you can just devote some marketing/merchandising efforts and expect consumers to “get it.” You have to tell a story…you have to engage in information-driven marketing efforts that can help consumers feel good about the sustainability choices they make, and even feel good about spending a few more dollars on such items.

People want to do the right thing. And most people believe that sustainability is important, that global warming is an issue, that we have to take care of our fragile planet. They just don't always know what to do, because they are presented with so many options and so many opinions. So anything a retailer can do to help them make smart decisions is a move well worth making…and, by the way, it will also help sell product.

Which I thought was the point.

It goes back to my story and commentary yesterday, and today’s Sansolo Speaks. You can do well by doing good.

And the companies that do so will end up with a specific differential advantage in the marketplace both in terms of economics and customer goodwill.