Monday, December 14, 2009

In Digital Era, Marketers Still Prefer a Paper Trail

An excerpt from the Wall Street Journal - Friday, October 16, 2009 - By Jeffrey Ball

"Never is the elusiveness of a paperless world more evident that at this time of year, when mail boxes overflow with catalogs and holiday cards.

More than 17 billion catalogs were mailed in the U.S. last year - about 56 for every American. So why does the catalog, which helped Richard Sears launch his eponymous retail empire more than a century ago, continue to thrive in the electronic age? Because glossy catalog pages still entice buyers in a way that computer images don't. Catalogs, marketers say, drive sales at Web sites, making them more important than ever.

Among retailers who rely mainly on direct sales, 62% say their biggest revenue generator is a paper catalog, according to the latest survey by the Direct Marketing Association of its members. Only a fifth of those retailers say they draw their biggest sales from their Web sites.

That is why virtually no one expects the mail-order catalog to go away - even though only 1.3% of those catalogs generated a sale, a survey found.

Internet retailing has environmental consequences, notably energy-consuming Web servers. The catalog industry says it is working hard to reduce the environmental impact of its mailings by pushing retailers to increase their reliance on recycled paper and by making it easier for consumers to opt out of mailings they don't want to receive."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Which is Greener: Paper or Digital? The Answer May Surprise You - a Blog

The DocuMentor Blog recently posted an interesting article on a subject we've been following closely:

Even though my brain is infused with a little too many toner particles, the Doc assumes that anything we can do to reduce paper consumption is good for the planet. But what about the significant impact of digital waste?

For a fascinating read, take a look at this interview with Don Carli, the Doc’s good friend and Executive Vice President of SustainCommWorld LLC and Senior Research Fellow with the Institute for Sustainable Communication. Here’s a few highlights from Don:

“Other than pushing the ‘cool’ factor, one of the main selling points being made by marketers of eReaders is that they are greener than print. It is little surprise that the common view held by consumers who don’t know the backstory is that going digital means going green and saving trees. Many are in for a rude awakening. When subjected to ‘cradle-to-cradle’ life cycle analysis, eReading is not nearly as green as many naively assume it is.”

“There is no question that print media could do a better job of managing the sustainability of its supply chains and waste streams, but it’s a misguided notion to assume that digital media is categorically greener. Computers, eReaders, and cell phones don’t grow on trees and their spiraling requirement for energy is unsustainable.”

“Making a computer typically requires the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals including gold, silver, and palladium as well as extensive use of plastics and hydrocarbon solvents. To function, digital devices require a constant flow of electrons that predominately come from the combustion of coal, and at the end of their all-too-short useful lives electronics have become the single largest stream of toxic waste created by man. Until recently, there was little, if any, voluntary disclosure of the lifecycle ‘backstory’ of digital media.”

“Sadly, print has come to be seen as a wasteful, inefficient and environmentally destructive medium, despite the fact that much of print media is based on comparatively benign and renewable materials. In addition, print has incredible potential to be a far more sustainable medium than it is today… and a truly digital medium as well. Despite its importance to business, government and society, print has been cast in the role of a dark old devil in decline. Digital media has been cast as the bright young savior on the rise.”

“Ironically the future of digital media and eBook readers is likely to be based on flexible polymer electronics manufactured using printing presses rather than silicon semiconductor fabrication technologies. In fact, the next generation of eReaders will most likely be digital AND be printed.”

There is a lot more from Don that the Doc guarantees will stimulate your neural economy.