Best Green Brands: Top Picks from Natural Expo East

Last weekend I went to Boston to catch the last couple of days of Natural Expo East, the East coast leg of the world’s largest organic trade fair. (Natural Expo West, in LA, is the West coast version and BioFach, Germany, is the International one.)

What strikes you is how mainstream green is becoming when you meander among the 2,100 exhibitor booths and ponder the relative merits of everything from organic morning-sickness tea to disposable dinner plates (from pressed palm leaves), to waterless car care, 100-calorie organic muffins and even organic fro-yo for dogs (no, I didn’t make that up. It’s called Yoeghund……)

Busy Green Street Scene

Busy Green Street Scene

The green scene is still relatively recession proof, as well as sometimes achingly innovative (see above.) According to the organizers, New Hope Natural Media, Expo East attendance was up this year vs. last to 26,000 vs. 25,000. However, it was the first year the show was held in Boston, not Baltimore, and no offense to Hairspray but Beantown is a more popular tourist destination. But the American natural market continues to grow. The organizers cite 2007 figures putting the natural market at a total of $62 billion, an increase of 9.8% over 2006. Still, it’s less than 10% of the bailout plan for banks, so there’s a lot of runway left before it becomes the true fabric of society. 

As I strolled along the aisles, I also noticed how polished and professional these companies are becoming, rather than homespun and hit-or-miss. Beautiful booths, powerful branding, polished packaging, sophisticated marketing techniques and claims. The stuff even looks and tastes tastes good! Has chic style, contemporary color!! Why, it might even deliver against its performance promises!!! As one very successful  green entrepreneur and spokesperson put it – if all else is equal, why would you NOT go green?

On that happy call to action, let me share with you my top four personal stand outs from across the categories excluding beauty care (yes, there were several interesting beauty & personal care brands present – and we are following up with a few – but more on that later! Maybe we’ll ask you to cast your votes on election day!) Meanwhile:

Everyday Houshold Item: NEW LEAF PAPER

New Leaf's New Metric

I loved the positioning, product design and people at NEW LEAF PAPER. Pretty notebooks, cards, dividers and post-its made from 38-100% post-consumer recycled waste. Their real edge is their brand positioning and product communication. The sustainability metric and graphic is simple, relevant and compelling. It creates a meaningful, tangible, trackable perspective about what it means to go green. Making the ordinary extraordinary is a true art . Brilliant! (As the Brits would say).

Clothing: UNDER THE CANOPY

Elegant EcoWear

Elegant EcoWear

Intriguing name, elegant style. Pared down, sophisticated collection of “just enough’. Tees that exhort you to vote. Three piece lounging and travel sets, relaxed yet perfectly tailored in this season’s aubergine. Simple, soft robes, beautifully presented. Truly useful spa accessories. And account execs to die for, as they engagingly and effectively interpreted who you were and what you were interested in and edited their pitch accordingly. Thanks, Porscha!  And ah, the booth, a wonderfully tactile “at home” set  with bed and boudoir decor – like Jo Malone, but real! Founder Marci Zaroff is an original practitioner of the “if all else is equal, why NOT go green?” philosophy. She’s made that choice easy!  

Food & Energy Drinks: GOOD BELLY

From the endless procession of  food, drink and pro-biotics, GOODBELLY. Funny name, already conceived campaign slogan (“have you had your goodbelly today?”) which the sampling staff all knew, so good training. Packs in a 100% daily requirement of 9 vitamins, bolsters immunity and gives women everything they want: bloat-free regularity, no Wheat or Dairy, 50 calories. 21-day money back guarantee. (Boy, did that work for Danone!!). Oi, all this and did I mention? It’s DELICIOUS!! So stomach that!

Green Clean: SEVENTH GENERATION:

As one of the first and most successful green brands, Seventh Generation could be getting it badly wrong by now. Instead, they stand out as a beacon of authenticity in an increasingly crowded and cynical world. It’s the cleaning equivalent of comfort food. Their booth was simple, smack in the center, a landmark. It actually welcomed you in! (Sometimes going professional and scaling up really dials down the homespun and inviting – but not here!) Made everyone feel like stopping by and turned the brand into a lively meeting place. And meet they did: I met my Dr. Hauschka partner here and chatted with a couple of very switched on company staffers who weren’t the least bit bothered that I wasn’t going to place a big supermarket order, or even order at all. For 360 degree branding brought alive through every touch point, it was hard to beat. And by the way – I don’t even use the products! But I will NOW!!!

So, across the board a few observations. Authenticity. Flair. Efficacy. Accessible Information. Branding Brought Alive. And Walking in the Customer’s Shoes. That’s what each of these companies did well. And it’s what we aspire to deliver as we build beautorium. Walking among these “green giants” served as an inspiring reminder.

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