“What you may not know is that in many places, solar is now the cheapest form of power you can buy, and that list is growing rapidly.”
SunRun’s new ad campaign focuses on the financial realities of solar power: In many places it’s really cheap and the company will install your panels for free.
As individuals, we all have a core set of personal values. Our values are exposed to us all throughout life; some values are a product of how we were raised and others are an outcome of life experience. Either way, we all choose to embrace a specific set of beliefs that give meaning to our lives and help establish our priorities.
Our values sway us in many of the choices we make. Our values often dictate how we choose our friends and our mates to how we treat complete strangers. Even things like exercise, hobbies and location of residence are often a reflection of our values. After all, these are the principles that help define our character; if our values are a reflection of who we are, then naturally it makes sense that they come into play in so many facets of our lives. But “so many” is by no means comprehensive.
Thanks to the power of perception, our brains are wired to buy on value instead of values. Something about a great deal tends to trump a purchase decision rooted in the principles that help guide so many of our other behaviors. In fact, today there are hundreds of daily deal sites and even an IPO further corroborating our fixation with an irrefutable bargain. TV ads and every other highway billboard also concentrate on some sort of discount when you agree to consume their offering. “Every other” company choosing to advertise based on this model can’t be wrong. Or can they?
I recently wrote a piece on “Cash Mobs,” a trending phenomenon where participants pick a store, flock to it and agree to pay full-price to support a local business in need. For some time, the movement’s success perplexed me. If daily deal sites were going public, then why is a concept that embraces precisely the opposite philosophy enjoying such success? The answer: while pricing tends to dictate our short-term buying behavior, in the long-term our values become greater than value. Thanks to things like Cash Mobs, new corporate legal structures, rapidly evolving technology, trends in transparency and increasing consumer demand for a more conscious approach to capitalism, our purchasing behavior is becoming an exponentially increasing reflection of the principles that have molded our character and guided our mission in life: our values.
By no means am I suggesting that price should not be a purchase motivator. In today’s uncertain and volatile economic times, of course price is going to motivate what, where, when and why we consume. I’m simply suggesting that there are other important factors to consider and that if we neglect to do so, the negative implications overtime will likely outweigh the downside of spending a few extra bucks at the grocery store. A corporation’s labor and sourcing practices, supply chain policies and societal and environmental impact all have a ripple effect that can be either positive or negative. If we want to ensure outcomes that are beneficial in the long-term, we’ll need to continue to let our values help decide the companies we support and the products we consume.
Last I checked we weren’t choosing our friends or even our favorite pastimes based solely on the financial cost to acquire them. It’s because there’s more meaningful factors to consider. Perhaps our criterion for how we buy should look more like the values-based system we employ to make so many of life’s other big decisions.
Menthol is bad news. At least when it comes to cigarettes. When the FDA banned flavoring of cigarettes in 2009, menthol miraculously slipped through the cracks. That’s right, apparently the menthol-making process of formulating the compound synthetically or deriving it from peppermint and/or other mint oils doesn’t constitute flavoring.
What’s even more alarming (but not surprising) than big tobacco managing to sidestep flavor-ban legislation are some of the facts around menthol cigarettes. Below are the stats courtesy of the anti-tobacco education foundation Legacy’s newest project called MenthLab – a five-day workshop aimed at exposing the truth about menthol smoking.
- 27% of the market share for cigarettes is menthol
- 80% of African-American smokers use menthol
- 48% of youth smokers smoke menthol cigarettes
- More than 80% of African-American smokers in middle school and high school prefer menthol cigarettes
According to Fast Company, we have Adam and Marty Butler of Butler Bros., an Austin creative firm with a focus on cause marketing, to thank for pitching a line of products and events intended to generate revenue for smoking out menthol and big tobacco.
As Fast Company notes, “Legacy’s MenthLab workshop envisioned ways to reach kids at multiple venues.” From dodgeballs and basketball courts branded with the number “1200” (the number of people who die each day from tobacco-related causes) to collaborating with some of hip hop’s biggest stars, the workshop sparked many powerful ideas for battling the industry that spends $29M each day on marketing cigarettes.
While MenthLab undoubtedly faces a lofty battle ahead, we couldn’t be more excited for their commitment to designing positive change. As the market for just about anything from food to clothing to tobacco continues to become increasingly commoditized, the power of branding will become exponentially more relevant. If we can harness the power of design and branding as an emotional catalyst to curb smoking and the influence of the colossal animal we know as big-tobacco, there’s next to nothing we can’t accomplish.
(Photo via MillionFaces by agency TBWA)