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Leadership

The 'first mover' in any product category can often select the environmental attributes it wants to offer, and mould consumer expectations. Future competitors must then play by the same rules.

Companies can assume the mantle of green leaders without greening themselves completely. They need only be sincere and green in a few substantial ways. They can retain market leadership by introducing incremental improvements over time - a strategy termed 'greening as we go'.

Companies can often create an effective presence in green markets by incorporating a number of 'green' improvements into a new or refurbished product. As these improvements are perfected and their consumer appeal tested, the new attributes can be cost-effectively incorporated into the company's other product lines.

This leadership position can be protected for months or years. Market barriers such as patents, distribution rights and strict product standards can be used to keep competitors at bay, allowing the market-leader to reap the rewards.

Many companies have found that an environmentally-improved product, repositioned for a green-conscious market, can successfully renew an ageing brand. Green improvements made to a 'youth' line can also be readily applied to 'adult' product lines.

Similarly, manufacturers of products traditionally sold to men can increase their sales by marketing 'green' improvements to women. Female consumers, who are traditionally more sensitive to environmental considerations, are increasingly purchasing items like automobiles and paints, as well as men's clothes and toiletries.

Success in the marketplace can also be enhanced by tying a product's environmental attributes to the lifestyle of target consumers. Millions of hikers, for example, care about protecting wild lands; boaters are concerned about clean lakes and streams; and mothers worry about their children's health. Thus a watersport product manufactured in a way that reduces water pollution carries an innate appeal to many boaters, while green household cleaners that substitute safe ingredients for dangerous chemicals tend to appeal to mothers.

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