Wal-Mart looks to sell patrons on the concept of going green

Being green isn't just for Kermit the Frog anymore. Entities across the world are embracing the environmentally friendly initiative and are working to make a difference.

Being green isn't just for Kermit the Frog anymore. Entities across the world are embracing the environmentally friendly initiative and are working to make a difference.

Wal-Mart, a company that has been actively promoting its new green lifestyle, has taken on the task of converting 100 million homes to energy-saving fluorescent bulbs. Even though those bulbs use 75% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent ones, the retail giant is facing an uphill battle by trying to increase US sales of the fluorescent bulbs by 50%.

The company has made some improvements in sales of the more expensive fluorescent bulbs through better shelf placement and educational efforts, but Wal-Mart will have to get creative to reach its goal if the bulbs aren't put into the mold of "everyday low prices."

Why does it matter?

While green may be a growing trend, it also falls into the realm of corporate social responsibility and may create a halo effect for the retail giant while also positioning it as a thought leader.

"There is a growing consumer demand for more environmentally conscious products," said William Brent, SVP and head of Weber Shandwick's clean tech practice. "Wal-Mart is seeing that demand and responding in kind. It is trying to take a leadership position and other companies will follow."

Brent added that the first rule of going green for any company is to follow through with promises and initiatives that involve being environmentally friendly. "The exciting thing about Wal-Mart's goal is that they actually have the ability to lower costs [of the fluorescent bulbs.] The biggest problem with energy-saving programs is the hit to the consumer up-front. This will take in-store educational efforts for consumers by Wal-Mart," he said.

Five facts:

1 According to 55% of global business executives surveyed by Weber Shandwick's Safeguarding Reputation survey, being recognized as committed to corporate responsibility contributes a lot to a company's overall reputation.

2 US consumers spend $16 billion annually on organic products, while worldwide consumption exceeds $26 billion, says GreenMoneyJournal.com.

3 The average household spends 10%-15% of its annual electricity bill on lighting, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Wal-Mart's move could save consumers $3 billion annually in electricity costs.

4 Green living spaces that use recycled or renewable materials and that lower energy use and water consumption have been built in New York City. There are currently six larger green buildings in the city, with more in the works.

5 Companies such as EcoBroker.com train real estate agents in environmentally-friendly issues and alternative energies.

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