August 13, 2009

Mapping green and sustainable efforts—and perceptions—in the Outdoor Industry.

Kickstand Communications: mapping the “green” conversation in the Outdoor Industry

“There’s no such thing as sustainability. It’s just kind of a path you get on and try–each day try to make it better.” ~ Yvon Chouinard

Kickstand Communications, a Boulder-based consumer research and communications company, is currently underway on an ambitious research effort to map the baseline conversation around “green” and sustainable efforts and perceptions in the Outdoor Industry.

Through interviews with hundreds of manufacturers, retailers, and customers as well as a wide-sweeping media analysis, Kickstand aims to measure the pulse of the conversation, discover best practices and identify leadership opportunities using their fusion of conversation mapping and ethnography techniques.

Kickstand’s Robb Shurr shares his thoughts:

We’re doing this because we perceive sustainability to be an important concept to the outdoor industry (customers need to have places recreate) and see many different conversations and ways the concept manifests. Through our research, we’re trying to create a baseline understanding of what this means to the industry.

We are not working with anyone on this. We are self-producing this study because we recognized a hole of understanding and wanted to understand it better.

Findings are very early, but our research has identified a few interesting themes emerging. Every manufacturer that we’ve talked to has a sustainability story and is eager to share what they’re doing. They’ve thought about the concept and can talk freely about it — suggesting that it’s something they’ve spent ample time working on. Efforts vary widely from greening their office, to greening their entire supply chain from top to bottom, to thinking about the life cycle of their product.

The companies that cite “made in the USA” as being their main sustainability story largely see this concept as being the single most important way to address sustainability.

Another interesting bit is that some companies are open about their sustainability efforts and using it in their marketing, while  others aren’t. For the companies that are not talking about it, their silence often stems from a fear of being perceived as greenwashing. Others say that they are not talking about it because it feels inauthentic and they think that they should be doing more (aka, guilt). We look forward to exploring the trends and using the data to inspire tangible sustainability practices. 

Kickstand will begin to share insights September 15th here.

Kickstand Communications is located in Boulder, Colorado, and specializes in mapping conversations, listening to customers, and helping their clients change the world. They are conversation archeologists and architects who build communities around brands. Kickstand focuses on consumers and industries in transition, change-marketing, and aligning their clients’ values, vision, product, and purpose.

For more: Robb Shurr / Kickstand Communications / 303.304.9580 / www.wearekickstand.comwww.likeonabike.com

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