Monday, September 28, 2009

GoodGuide gets it.

The good people at GoodGuide are providing a fantastic service to consumers. They are also changing CPG marketing.

GoodGuide has created "the world's largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of the products in your home.
" What's in it? Who makes it? Where and how? What is the environmental impact of this product across its entire life cycle? These are some of the questions GoodGuide seeks to answer. They rate products to make it easy to quickly make better purchase decisions.

Over a million people have visited website (still in beta) and already there are over 70,000 products rated.

Over 100,000 people have downloaded the free GoodGuide iPhone app making it easy to take this knowledge to the store shelf. A bar code reading capability is due out shortly.

GoodGuide is candid about building a platform for "normal people" (not just bleeding edge, environmentally conscious, health freaks) to make healthier, socially and environmentally conscious decisions everyday.

It's somewhat ironic that people must seek out resources like GoodGuide to get the information they want on the products they buy. The extraordinary lengths GoodGuide has had to go to sleuth-out this information is equally ironic.

One of the founders, Dara O'Rourke in an interview today on Minnesota Public Radio shared anecdotes about how some companies were maneuvering to keep information pertaining to ingredients and environmental impact out of public view. Other more enlightened brands are actively working with GoodGuide to improve their scores.

Eventually brands will realize that transparency is a powerful differentiator and path to growth. First movers will likely reap disproportionate benefits. GoodGuide is dramatically accelerating this process. What's your product's GoodGuide score?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hyatt exposed

Hyatt Hotels has been getting a lot of press the last few days for firing housekeeping staff after instructing them to train "vacation replacements" that turned out to be lower cost contract workers who would soon take their jobs. Thanks to Sara Peterson @ Megaphone for pointing me to this HBR Editor's Blog post by Paul Michelmanon assessing the damage.

What are the odds that Hyatt's marketing leadership was aware of the plan to sweep out the housekeeping staff in this fashion? In our transparent marketplace, the marketing department needs to do more than make the ads and brochures. They must be engaged in operational decisions that directly impact the brand. The ramifications from these "simple economic decisions" are often more impactful than any ad or brochure. Today "marketing" is more about brand behavior than glossy images. Wake up Hyatt.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beyond the sound bite

An ambitious if somewhat wonky experiment is taking place. Is it possible for two opposing parties to calmly and rationally debate an issue using in-depth, fact based arguments? Can anyone actually be persuaded to change their opinion on an issue after witnessing such a debate? Interesting questions given the pundit-charged, polarized nature of our "national conversation."

Intelligence Squared US is bringing the formal, "Oxford style" debate format to key issues facing the U.S. They've been at it for three years now and are starting to get some visibility. IQ2US tackles issues ranging from the demise of mainstream media to the efficacy of "Buy American" policies. The radio broadcast is available on over 190 NPR stations nationwide and is televised on Bloomberg, reaching over 200 million homes. I encourage you to listen to one of these debates. They are informative, surprisingly fun and charged with same kind of drama that kept millions tuned into Perry Mason.

A citizen making a voting decision is analogous to a consumer making purchase decision. Based on available information, both make a choice. Poor decisions generally happen when the information is incomplete or inaccurate. It's an understatement to say the quality of information available to the average citizen or consumer today is less than ideal.

Is there an appetite for more rigorous and in-depth public debate? Viewership of the 2008 presidential debates indicates there is. Are consumers open to more and better fact based information in making purchasing decisions? It appears so when one looks at the popularity of sites like and (where consumers have essentially filled this need on their own).

Bottom line: Politicians and marketers have an opportuity to improve their standing (and outcomes) by taping into this appetite for deeper dialog and better information. Could the pendulum be swinging from the era of superficiality to one of substance?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Former ad guys concur

It seems fellow recovering advertising executive, James P. Othmer has a similar perspective regarding the ability of social media to help President Obama persuade the masses. Check out his recent New York Times op-ed piece here.