Rational populism


Have you noticed that people in Berlin are recycling? I mean, Recycling. They are doing it even by bus stops.

The Green Party has become the second largest party in Germany and nuclear power plants will be run down in 11 years time. These are the news we´ve recently and rather often been reading from Berlin. A phenomenon worth of untangling. To understand German consumer behavior, I went to get answers.

In Berlin I met two opinion leaders – Daniel Kruse and Dominik Wind. Kruse is co-founder of the marketing agency called NEST. “His” office is specialized in ethical marketing, and 90% of the customers are organizations and social actors, e.g. Green Party of Berlin, Greenpeace, Amnesty and WWF. Kruse, for one, runs agency called Until We See The Land. They design, realize and facilitate innovation camps.

It seems that environmental issues are everywhere and are of intrinsic value in Germany. So called “Greenwashing” in the marketing is normal, meaning that honesty and expertise are big advantages when runnng the business. Questions related to community are often connected to many environmental issues, which, in turn, often are attached with strong emotions, although the strict facts are not forgotten either. According to Wind Germans are fearful, constantly keeping an eye over your shoulder and trying to find new ways of keeping their leading position in European business-market. “The Great Green Motivation” for human population means, therefore, also about thinking through the facts. Nuclear power has not been seen worth building since renewable energy will be a huge business in the country in the future. Respectable ideology, I say. At the same time it may be asked where the philosophy of green business is hiding in Finland? We do situate rather near Germany, geographically and maybe culturally as well – a Finn is not an alien in Berlin. While many societal issues may not be justified by fortune, there are many green values that could be influenced by so-called harder values.

Berlin might get a green mayor soon and it is already the second largest party in the city. How is this possible? German Greens have been very clear and straightforward, driven activities for a long time. Clarity of communication doesn’t mean populism in the city, but, rather, it gives much-needed answers to in this chaotic world of carbon calculators. So, let’s talk about real life not committees.

Market size and it’s sophistication provide reasonable budgets for societal actors, and communication is thus more professional. But, how does the marketer keep himself up-to-date? According to Kruse, it happens in co-operation with the customers – promoting business and concerns happens together. Transparency and telling the story of information to the public is the key, not a secret.

How do we build marketing plans for “low carbon life” then? The is answer amazingly simple; it happens just the same way as creating any other idea. Be creative, do not follow the flow and be brave. The copy and paste tool should be buried, which in practice means that one should not do the same thing twice. The truth is that no school for low carbon marketing exists for the time being, but you can learn from your clients or co-workers. The first adopter becomes the teacher.

The interview ended and I didn´t find one pure and comprehensive explanation for the German green colour. But, one thing is for sure – they really are doing something very right. I suggest, that we, the rest of the world, should both keep an eye on them and learn something on the way.



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