Applying the product evolution model to sustainable marketing - A blog by Peter Korchnak

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Applying the product evolution model to sustainable marketing - A blog by Peter Korchnak

This commentary can be found originally at: Sustainable Marketing Blog by Peter Korchnak. Better triple bottom line.
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Applying the product evolution model to sustainable marketing


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Thursday, November 19, 2009 - 8:47am


Your sustainable brand’s “green” product competes within a product category, like household cleaners, interior paint, or iced tea. Each brand in your category differentiates its product differently as it passes through its life cycle; you are likely to emphasize your product’s low environmental impact or health benefits.

Competition between individual products is just one part of the story. According to Clayton Christensen, cumulative changes in individual product features determine the nature or basis of competition within categories, which shifts in cycles of evolution. The shift from one cycle to another occurs when the product’s features surpass the customers’ demand or absorption rate. That the basis of competition progresses from functionality to reliability to convenience to price poses a significant challenge to “green” products: sustainability is markedly absent from the model. Let’s look at the product evolution model to identify opportunities for “green”.

The initial basis of competition within a category is functionality. A major challenge “green” products used to face was the results they delivered. It turned out consumers cared less about the environmental attributes of a cleaning product than about its ability to perform the intended function – clean.

Once the functionality of products exceeds what the market demands or can absorb, the basis of competitive differentiation shifts to reliability. “Green” products that failed to meet the expectation for reliability failed.

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Keywords: CSR | Consumers | Corporate Social Responsibility | Corporations | Green | Peter Korchnak | Sustainable | business ethics | social