Green marketing is like following a trail of whole-wheat, organic fair-trade breadcrumbs – one morsel leads to the next, until your shirt buttons are gut-stretched and you need at least 3 free-range beers to wash it all down.
Last week, as I blogged about Ocean Wise at the Cactus Club Café, I also noticed an interesting Green Table logo on their menu. As this offered another potential excuse to write off a meal, I decided look them up.
According to their website, Green Table is “a growing group of leading restaurant professionals, joined by the people who supply and support us.” Like Ocean Wise, they are a program that should appeal to both the foodservice industry and the foodeater public alike. But according to Executive Director André LaRivière, the message could be a bit complex for everyday info snacking.
“Restaurants look at Green Table as a holistic program,” says LaRivière. “It has to fill a lot of check boxes on the spreadsheet: marketing, carbon footprint, community engagement and saving money. Restaurants may want to satisfy existing customer demands, make it another component of their green credentials, or they may see it as part of being ‘a player’ in Vancouver’s dining scene. This is a very collaborative, youthful scene. Restaurateurs here have a keen awareness that they are developing something they can all benefit from.”
One area of membership growth for Green table has been in the catering industry. Says LaRivière, “Caterers see a real value in offering a ‘certified’ green menu, because their corporate customers are asking for it.”
So what about regular foodies? How is green table going to go mainstream with those masses who may be hungrier for red meat than for green credentials?
“The end customers will have a strong influence, but the real change will be effected in supply, demand and distribution.” says LaRivière, “We’ve been growing Green Table ‘organically’, and we will likely continue partnering with groups at the regional level, as we have with Whistler’s 2020 solution. We also know that Vancouver is a hub for our message. People here have a knowledge of the future of food at a different level.”
As a patron of dining establishments (some finer than others – a reality when you share the dinner decision making with an 8-year old) I would love to have the opportunity to choose restaurants based on recognized green credentials. So I’m going to throw a few Green Briefs Marketing Ideas at the wall and see what might stick.
The huge challenge is the budgetary scope of taking a message mainstream – it’s expensive to target a broad demographic of diners. One approach would be to partner with some strong eco-cause marketing organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund, or Vancouver Food Bank, for a green dining out for charity event. One night a year, all participating Green Table restaurants could cover their tables with green cloth (sustainably sourced, of course) and host diners with part proceeds from the meal going to charity. This would not only drive home the branding of Green Table, it would also get the media leverage necessary to hit that mainstream market.
The rest of the year, participating restaurants could also hand out Green Table loyalty cards, which diners could use to collect points and redeem on the Green Table site.
Whatever LaRivière and Green Table decide to do (I hear a more networked web platform is in the works) I hope we see more. What’s coming out of the kitchen is pretty appealing, not to mention good for us.
Previous: « The fish made me do it.
Next: Lorne Craig interviewed by Globe-Net on the future of advertising. »