How can we support the consumer with accurate environmental information?

September 6, 2008 at 9:29 pm Leave a comment

In a previous post I asked for greater environmental clarity in the stationery industry. But what can be done to achieve this and who should take the lead?

I’m not talking about the credentials of products at this stage, but about how these credentials are communicated. One of the most obvious and frequently mis-represented credential is that of recycled paper.

Is the paper recycled, or is it the whole product? Is the paper 100% recycled? Is the product recyclable or just the paper? …etc

Every office products catalogue attempts to communicate environmental credentials…some to a much better standard than others.

One of the best examples that I have seen of delivery of environmental information within a catalogue that enables customers to make an educated purchase decision is from the Dealer Group XPD (Officepoint, OfficeStar and Simply Office). Their ‘Go Green’ Book stands out as being one of the best at delivering this information in an educative, detailed and yet easy to understand format. The use of symbols is detailed and well explained and the catalogue engages the reader with its ‘magazine style’ editorial features.

There should be a drive for this quality communication to become industry standard. No more ‘tree logos’ symbolising that product ‘A’ is slightly more green than product ‘B’. This means nothing to the consumer.

As the industry body, the BOSS Federation would be best positioned to deliver a clear and well defined labelling scheme throughout the industry through a consultative process with the parties concerned. These would include key representatives from the manufacturers, office products wholesalers, dealer groups, dealer community and contract stationers. The policy should define a labelling scheme that works across categories and ensure compliance in Office Products Catalogues.

In addition, a communication plan is required to support the education of the consumer/purchaser. The involvement of the Trade and PA/Office Manager/Procurement Press would enable this to reach
the relevant people and engage them in the benefits to be gained from making more environmentally responsible purchase decisions. It would specify how the new labelling system could aid their product selection.

The ever-increasing impact people are having on the environment is something we need to engage in, but it is an education process. Currently there is little but confusion. We need:

  • A standard labelling policy
  • Buy-in from the manufacturers and resellers of office products
  • A clear and consistent co-funded communication and education programme through the channel from manufacturer to end user
  • Agreed product or brand specific communication tools that can be utilised by the manufacturers wherever they promote the credentials of their brands outside the Office Products Catalogues

The inclusion of a new media stream to support the communication programme should be considered as an environmentally responsible method of engaging and educating the consumer, building conversation and engagement in the mission to encourage better informed purchase decisions.

Will the BOSS Federation take up the challenge, or is someone else better positioned to accomplish this task?


Entry filed under: Environmental Issues, New Media, Office Products Market, Stationery. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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