BY DENNIS SALAZAR
At a recent gathering of eco minded business people, I listened in on a conversation between two green e-commerce business owners who were complaining about the weak economy and the impact it has had on their businesses. One stated he had noticed a substantial slowdown of orders and the other agreed, confirming he was experiencing the same. Both businessmen were certain the reduction of business to the “recession” and “the troubling economic times”, but I am not nearly so sure.
A stampede is never a group decision
Panic and stampedes both begin when a persuasive individual determines a course for the entire group. Unlike one political adviser who recently claimed the recession is just in our heads, I realize this downturn in the economy is unfortunately very real. But somewhere between hiding your head in the sand and being completely oblivious to the problem, there is a good place to be, a place of cautious optimism combined with a firm grip on the reality of the times.
It is important for all of us in the sustainable products market, including the packaging segment, to keep in mind that what we are trying to accomplish is an important and unstoppable force that while not recession proof, can and will withstand economic uncertainty or a temporary downturn in the economy. If this were a fad or other fair weathered goal, sustainability might be vulnerable to derailment, but if we stay on course and remain positive in our dealings, we will prevail in time.
Five things to keep in mind
· Having said all that, it is more important than ever before that our green products are price competitive. There may have been a time when green could demand a hefty premium, but I believe those days are gone. Today, we must integrate sound business practices in the manufacturing and in sourcing of the green products we sell.
· Don’t take it personally. Price pressure is not an anti-green phenomenon. Every supplier is experiencing the same issues whether their products and services are eco focused or not. In fact, I believe that we may be less impacted than non-green businesses because committed believers will likely sacrifice in other areas rather than to revert back to unhealthy, unsustainable ways.
· There is increased competition in the green market place. We must work harder and smarter in everything we do, particularly marketing, customer service, and customer retention.
· Saving time, money and reducing cost is never out of fashion. Most sustainable ideas and products reduce cost and are proven more economical over time. It is more important than ever to “sell” the economic benefits to customers who may be wavering and considering apparently less expensive alternatives.
· Hard times inspire and drive creativity and innovation. Ask anyone who flourished during previous economic tough times. This may wind up being the best thing that could happen because it forces us all to do what we do, only better.
Friends who know me well will confirm I love a good quote whether it is from Einstein or Seinfeld. Somewhere in between those two is the famous author Victor Hugo. As a business person committed to promoting sustainability, you can take some comfort in these difficult times, in one of his most famous quotes:
There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world; and that is an idea whose time has come.
Dennis Salazar is the president of Salazar Packaging, Inc., a certified MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) company specializing in packaging products, equipment and solutions. With over thirty years in the packaging industry, he is known for his tongue in cheek sense of humor as well as his sustainable packaging passion and expertise.
To contact Dennis, please visit his web site: www.salazarpackaging.com