Expanding New York City’s Green and Cleantech Market Is also a Question about Choosing the Right Marketing Strategy

By Katja Schroeder, Expedition PR

Cleantech was identified as an opportunity to drive economic growth in New York City and support the execution of PlanNYC, the City’s sustainability ago some years ago. The global clean tech market is expected to grow to $5.9 trillion by 2015 and the goal is to capture a larger market share and establish New York City as a leader for green and clean tech.  Initiatives like the NYU ACRE incubator for clean tech companies, cleanweb hackathons and the energy efficiency programs by ThinkEco, have created excitement around New York’s potential to drive clean tech innovation. New York is now home to more than 40 clean tech companies. However, New York is still considered to be clean tech market laggard compared to other geographic regions.

greennyc2025What can be done to change it? Part of it, is looking at the road blocks.

The New York Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) together with A.T. Kearney conducted interviews, panels and workshops with clean tech industry leaders to identify New York City’s hurdles to take a more prominent position in the global clean tech arena.

The study concluded that with its high real estate and labor costs (and may we add tax rates), New York City does not cater well to traditional cleantech businesses, which require vast capital, engineering skills, and manufacturing facilities.

The other part is to raise visibility nationwide and on the global stage for cleantech innovation coming from New York City.

This is also an outcome of the report. The report’s authors state:

“Despite the recent growth of New York City-based Green 2.0 companies, public awareness has lagged that of sectors such as digital media. Interviewees, particularly those from other regions, stated that they had limited visibility into the cleantech startups and other entrepreneurial activity taking place in New York City. Thus, there is an opportunity to promote awareness of the sector, showcasing local success stories to raise the industry’s profile among national and international investors, customers and partners. While we are not recommending a new, stand-alone marketing effort, publicity efforts should be considered and embedded in the actions above.”

Given the city’s rich media and social media industry, the report concludes that New York will be a good hub for the Green 2.0 market segment. Green 2.0 is defined as “digitally-enabled products and services that use information, data and technology to address environmental, energy and resources constraints.”

The report says that Green 2.0 is a progression from clean tech hardware to information enabled-software – and services – that are less capital intensive, shorter to turn around and offer faster payback to investors.

Positioning and visibility programs always start with education. Terminologies can be confusing to consumers. It is important to strike an emotional chord with them and turn definitions into scenarios that relate to people’s lives.

The marketing program should begin with visualizing what Green 2.0 companies are and how they benefit businesses and citizens in New York and outside of the city. How do Green 2.0 company products and solutions help governments, businesses and citizens to be more green and sustainable?

And, as it is a city initiative, communicating its progress with stats and case studies will help to move the needle globally – and extend its reach beyond city borders.

While there are many marketing lessons that can be applied from other tech segments, such the rise of cloud computing, marketing Green 2.0 should use less tech lingo – and touch people’s lives instead.

To read the NYCEDC report, click here.