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Collaboration + Education = Change

Here it is. September. After a twelve-week sprint to make the most of every summer day, September forces us to slow down, take a deep breath and get back our normal schedules. For many, September brings with a time of reflection, rejuvenation and reconfiguration. It’s a time where education is in focus and new goals are set for the coming school year. The same is true for marketers. With many of us working on a calendar fiscal year, September is a time to make sure we hit our year-end goals and plan for the New Year.

When we started this blog four years ago, we set out to educate ourselves on the habits and preferences of Conscious Consumers. Along the way, we uncovered a wide variety of companies, organizations and movements doing amazing work. We’ve profiled people and companies who not only set out to change the world but also gain the loyalty of this savvy and powerful consumer set. But it’s rare that we take to the time to look back and see how far we’ve come.

Recently, a variety of news headlines caught my eye because they all touted big Conscious Consumer successes – locally, nationally and internationally. And while at first these headlines don’t seem to tie together, the more time I spent understanding their successes, the clearer the correlations became. To me, a simple formula stood out:

“collaboration + education = change.”

Each of the following headlines was the result of the collaboration of businesses, governments and leaders who worked together to find ways to educate Conscious Consumers and provide a clear goal to success.

Obesity rates are dropping in Minnesota
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Minnesota’s adult obesity rate dropped significantly from 2014 to 2015 (from 27.6 % to 26.1%). Minnesota was the only state in the region, which includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa successful at keeping its obesity rate under 30 percent. Many programs and new offerings have contributed to this decline, but there’s a pretty strong correlation to increased access to better nutrition and infrastructure that supports exercise like biking and walking paths. Across Minnesota, communities are working together through a Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) to expand healthy eating, active living and tobacco prevention opportunities across multiple settings and sectors. SHIP spends $17.5 million per year supporting grant funding to local community partners in all 87 counties and 10 tribal nations.

“Achieving healthy weight for all Minnesotans is one of the key objectives for our Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and its community and private sector partners. By working together we’ve been able to increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for all Minnesotans in every corner of the state.” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger

Greater access to organic food
Did you know that nearly $45 billion is spent on organic food every year in the United States? Today, organic products are available in nearly 3 out of 4 grocery stores in the U.S. Thrive Market (which I profiled in an earlier blog) made $10 million in sales in just 17 months since it launched. Greater exposure to higher quality, healthier food for consumers can result in huge changes in eating habits and preferences. Just look back at our articles on the growth of Chipotle and you’ll see that Conscious Consumers are demanding more from food companies.

“There is a seismic change in what people are eating and want out of their food and beverages,” said Greg Wank, practice leader of accounting firm Anchin, Block & Anchin’s Food and Beverage Industry Group in New York City. “People want more than good taste and their hunger satisfied. They want food and beverages that have some functionality for their bodies and their health.”

Giant pandas are no longer endangered
While still considered “vulnerable” to extinction, this is a positive sign that the Chinese government’s efforts have been effective since pandas were put on the endangered list in 1990. Efforts include a combination of forest protection, reforestation and strict laws against killing that have worked together to help the pandas recover. There are 1,864 pandas that live in the wild – a 17 percent increase since 2014. The panda has been the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for the past fifty years and they have worked with zoological agencies worldwide to create a network of giant panda reserves and worked with local communities to minimize impact on habitats. This is another example of how collaboration with education can create big change.

Ski Lanka is malaria-free!
The World Heath Organization (WHO) announced on September 6, 2016 that Ski Lanka is a malaria-free nation following Singapore and the Maldives. Ski Lanka, with a population of over 21 million, was among the most malaria-affected countries in the mid-20th century. WHO credits this “remarkable achievement” to education, screening and mobile malaria clinics in high-transmission areas, which delivered prompt treatments and reduced the overall presence of parasites. In other words, it took the efforts of the private and public sector to not only bring awareness to the disease but to build and launch effective solutions to combat it at its source.

So there you have it. Two weeks of news headlines and a wealth of insights on how change can happen – if we work together. If you or your team is struggling to find your way into this Conscious Consumer mindset, give us a call. We pride ourselves on taking complex problems and boiling them down to simple and effective pathways.

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