Green efforts will continue to be tested, "but their impact will be most assuredly segment-specific," agrees Grant Johnson, CEO of direct marketing agency Johnson Direct. "It will be a good tactic among niches but not as a whole, unless regulated as such." And clearly, at this point, there's unlikely to be any environmental regulation of direct mail anytime soon.
Rather, it's often about certain companies taking the green lead. One such company is Kiehl's, the skin care business. Janet Ecke-Beamer, production director at Story Worldwide, was the associate director of production services at Wunderman when Kiehl's was a client. She recalls a mailing "that was on recycled paper, with the logo, that was part of the look but also about them being conscious about going green."
Of course, certain prospect segments are just as likely to take the lead and say no to non-green efforts and companies with poor environmental records. For those folks, being green "is going to be a requirement to play in the game," believes Keith Goodman, VP of corporate solutions for Modern Postcard. "Instead of 'being green' being the differentiator, it will be actively shunning companies that are not."
For Most, the Future Remains Green
In conclusion, the environment appears to remain on the agenda for a large percentage of companies and prospects. Nancy Harhut, chief creative officer at direct marketing firm Wilde Agency, relates that some of her clients are asking about "green" right now. "I think as the economy recovers, green interest will remain strong," she predicts.
Pat Friesen, copywriter and owner of Pat Friesen & Co., concurs and says it really comes down to whether or not marketers are "ready to spend more on 'green' production ... to be green."
Meanwhile, the other question hinges on the prospects and their level of commitment. "Once the economy fully turns around, I believe the green messaging will return," says Merritt Engel, vice president of Merrigan & Co. "Yet, I'm uncertain, given the economy, whether the majority of consumers will be willing to pay more for companies who use green materials or offer green products."