The media brings to light sustainability stories in a variety of ways. Most times it is national stories like BP that highlight larger issues of the environmental impact of business, the cost of our dependence on oil, national regulations and standards, etc. These are all worthy of debate and discussion, however it reminds me that the good stories, the positive stories many times are left on the sidelines.
This isn’t just an issue regarding sustainability and environmental issues – this is a complaint I hear regularly regarding the nightly news. It’s a sad reality that the public does tend to gravitate towards that which is dramatic.
Which is why I was drawn to a recent video post from Yahoo in their Second Act series. The particular piece focused on Jay Shafer, who made a lifestyle choice to downsize to an 89 square foot house of his own design and handiwork. You can check out the video here.
Trathen Heckman, a sustainability educator, is quoted stating that Jay’s house is less than a 10th of the size of a “traditional” US home. I found it interesting that by turning away from the standard approach to happiness and success (aka home ownership, status, etc.) that Jay has enriched his life while:
* Reducing his utilities to less than $100 per year
* Carrying no mortgage
Although not for everyone, those are powerful motivators that could lead many people to explore their own version of Jay’s lifestyle choice.
The US economy is based largely on services, the consumer index and individuals making the choice over and over again to buy new items, be it clothing, homes or the latest gadget from Apple. As the economy continues to struggle, I wonder if more people will make similar choices as Jay, and how will the market respond? Jay grew a business of creating small buildings out of his own experience. Local farmers are seeing the continued growth of CSAs across the nation. More and more individuals are making lifestyle choices that don’t blend with traditional purchase patterns.
This is heady stuff for marketers. A mass media national approach won’t reach these folks. Marketing is going to have to adjust to being more targeted, more local. To me, this means social media will increase its importance as more businesses look to connect to those buyers right in their own backyards.
They say all politics are local. The combination of economy and choice may mean business needs to returns to those roots as well, and marketers need to take notice.