The art of good business

‘I want to buy a new smartphone,’ said a friend, ‘but I’m not sure which one to go for.’

‘Buy one that fits your needs,’ I replied. Hearing my answer this friend unfolded a piece of paper and read out some startling statistics. He said that his bank had begun discouraging the consumption of paper and was helping the environment by making sure that account holders opted for internet banking and contactless mobile payments. ‘This is saving around 13,000 trees every year,’ he said with a glint of satisfied triumph in his eyes. He then went on to tell me that the 15,500 tonnes reduction in CO2 emission is equivalent to planting 93,265 trees or supplying power to 15,750 urban households in India for a year. ‘This benefit to the eco-system is because of the praiseworthy policies of my bank,’ he added.

Now if this friend decided to open an account with a bank that was consciously trying to help the environment, I naturally assumed that I was witnessing an awakening of the common man to these concerns that were, until recent times, something that only the government announcements talked about just before elections.

The world is changing. Environment concerns are getting more attention and corporates are aware of this trend. It isn’t as if they would all jump on to some or the other activity to cash in on and get some real-time public sympathy. In the long term they would end up with more loyal customers and the environment would end up having a sustainable future.

A cursory peep into my twitter and Facebook pages told me that protecting the environment was indeed being seriously pursued by companies. I muttered, ‘The art of good business is now much more than announcing freebies and discounts.’ Look at what Anurag Prashar, Vice President, Samsung India Electronics, has to say on this, ‘United Nations’ World Environment Day is an important time for everyone to remind ourselves of our responsibility towards the environment and to resolve that we should come together and work towards protecting the future of planet Earth. At Samsung, we are committed to a sustainable future that makes everyday living better and through this program our aim was to drive this change in thinking through a call for action.’

‘What sort of program is Samsung talking about,’ I said… and a little research told me that they have what they call the STAR program that stands for Samsung Take-back And Recycling (STAR) program. It is quite simple and easy to execute. Their effort towards conservation and optimization of resources is by asking consumers to return an electronic product once it has reached its end-of-life. They then we take it back, reuse it, recycle and reinvent it. They thus help us get rid of global E-waste and support recycling and to remain committed to comply with India’s E-waste Management and Handling Rules.

It isn’t that other companies aren’t up to anything new. I came across Baidu India, a leading Chinese-language Internet search provider that has ADSs trade on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol BIDU. Currently, ten ADSs represent one Class A ordinary share. They have a global commitment towards wildlife protection. Their communication mentions a 2014 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that says that India is home to 6.5% of the world’s total wildlife species, which includes 7.6% of all mammals and 12.6% of all bird species. Out of these, 15 species of birds, 12 species of mammals, and 18 species of reptiles and amphibians in India are recognized as critically endangered.

Baidu ran a campaign on Twitter and Facebook from June 1st to June 5th, 2016, with the hash tag #TheLastConversation to ensure that there was adequate awareness about wildlife preservation. This was to complement the WED which is a yearly awareness campaign run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The theme of WED 2016 is illegal trade in wildlife, with the slogan ‘Go Wild for Life’. Their social media conversations are sure to generate some help for the endangered animals as it is done through their mascot, the ‘DU bear’.

One more innovative environment friendly effort that I came across was initiated by Casio India Co. Pvt. Ltd. (CIC) for its new Ultra Short-Throw projector, XJ-UT310WN that they claim is based on green concepts and endeavours to create a green future for next generation. This product, the company claims, would help make the country more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Kulbhushan Seth, V.P, Casio India adds that, ‘the new product launch agrees wholeheartedly with their vision of ‘Go Lamp Free and Save Money’. So yes, business is certainly on their minds but so is a safe and protected environment.

Let me add here that the arrival of the concept of eco-friendly product innovations is as vital as cutting on paper consumption, saving trees, protecting wildlife, and all the other steps that help sustainability. Inclusion of a green tomorrow in business strategy is no less important for mastering the art of good business.

I told my friend that his decision to patronise products coming from companies that were actively involved in environment issues was laudable and that every consumer in India must follow such revolutionary thoughts if only to encourage the proliferation of business policies that aim to protect the future.

I am yet not aware if he opted for a Samsung device or not but he was certainly convinced that consumers needed to link their buying decisions with the environment friendly policies of companies. Let me add here that I did go to a couple of Samsung service centres and noticed that Special World Environment Day theme decorations were deployed there. The notice board decorations and digital display of video, creatives, art or craft made of E-waste material (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and the placing of plants in and around the premises was rather encouraging. I also learnt that the employees there were encouraged to commute to office through greener modes of transport, though I’m not sure if cycling is really possible in Delhi. But yes, opting for a public transport instead of driving a car to office is anyway greener and better.

A lot of companies today are going for softer alternatives like informative videos and teasers and educative e-mailers with facts and insights that they share with the publics. I have begun noticing E-waste bins put up across locations for employees to adhere to the Company’s philosophy of building a greener environment. All this is surely the start of a healthy trend.

Business, if I may be allowed to add, is not about just higher sales but is about a responsible marketing policy.

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This post was published in Marketing Buzzar dated 10 June 2016:

2016_06_10_MarketingBuzzar_the art of good business

2016_06_10_MarketingBuzzar_the art of good business

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The art of good business

The art of good business

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Arvind Passey
10 June 2016