I don’t know how many of you remember green stamps. Back when our phones were universally black and we saw the USA in our Chevrolets there was this fantastic brand loyalty marketing program where every purchase at a participating store resulted in an allocation of green stamps (just the like postage kind) that moms would paste into green stamp books. After accumulating enough books of stamps they could be taken to the green stamp store for redemption of household appliances, televisions, golf clubs, etc. It was a path for converting everyday shopping into the realization of a family’s dream consumer product purchase. I clearly remember those magical special days when our entire family would walk the green stamp store’s aisles trying to reconcile among ourselves which one of the thousands of products we dreamed of owning was going to be the one we actually took home by redeeming our green stamps.
EcoUnit is a company that is using the modern version of green stamps to create a reward system for buying sustainably. It just launched a program with Organic Valley and Ray’s Food Place that links buying organic food with funding the restoration of local watersheds. Paul Smith covered some of the details of the partnership on 3p in October. Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers representing 1,398 farmers in 32 states and one Canadian province with $527.8 million in 2008 sales. Ray’s Food Place is part of a family owned grocery store and pharmacy chain.
The program works like this: When you buy Organic Valley products you get EcoUnit credits at the check out register. Post the EcoUnit credits on the EcoUnit website and then choose to use the EcoUnit credits to fund a range of local environmental projects that include willow tree planting along a lower tributary of Oregon’s John Day River, restoring the Deschutes River basin habitat, reviving and protecting the salmon runs of California’s Blue Creek and Klamath River or cedar-tree planting efforts along Oregon’s Elk River.
Tripp Hughes of Organic Valley explains the program this way, “Now, shoppers in southern Oregon and northern California who make environmentally responsible choices, like using reusable bags and purchasing local and organic products, also have the chance to make a real difference in the region’s watershed.”
This is a classic “Know it, Embrace it” marketing strategy outlined in The Secret Green Sauce. It creates a link between wellness, the local environment and the local economy at the cash register. Imagine how this program will resonate with Concerned Caregivers (our moms) driven by their passion to enhance the welfare of their loved ones. In one shopping trip they can buy organic foods, contribute toward ensuring the viability of their childrens’ local environment and it doesn’t cost more. “Cost less, mean more” is the pricing, branding and marketing path that Organic Valley, Ray’s Food Place and EcoUnit are executing to achieve increased green revenues. It creates a warm spot in this old entrepreneur’s heart right next to those memories of visiting the green stamp store!