What do Star Trek and Green Businesses Have in Common?
I haven’t seen the new Star Trek movie yet, but while listening to talk about the movie I realized that the movie is like the green business world in at least one important respect.
Is it because they are both action packed? Maybe.
But more importantly success for both the movie and for green businesses requires breaking out of their niche to reach the broader mainstream market. And the way to do this is by constructing a great product that just happens to be Star Trek, or green, on top of this.
The worlds of Trekkies and green consumers can both be insular. Like attracts like. Trekkies memorize and recite dialog to each other and think nothing of going out in public wearing Spock ears. They would be first in line for the movie, no matter what.
The makers of the movie realized though that they could not restrict their audience to the diehard Trekkies. For the movie to do well, it had to appeal to a broad audience, including those who don’t have a clue who Sulu and Uhura are. It had to be a great movie first, and a Star Trek movie second. It had to be a movie that even non-Klingon speakers will want to see. The movie has managed to do this without losing the original fan base, the Trekkies who have been loyal followers for all of these years.
The same is true for the greenies. Deep greenies tend to aggregate together, all of them speaking the language of sustainability with each other. They talk about Paul Hawken, Hunter Lovins, and Van Jones. They are the 5% of the population who value green above all else, even if it costs more.
For most people though, green is only one part of the product puzzle. They buy products because they work well, or have the right price, or were well marketed to make them feel cool. To reach the mainstream, green businesses have to sell products that are first of all great products, and green on top of everything else. In many cases the green economy is just starting to break into the mainstream, with huge opportunities for future growth ahead still.
So, maybe there is something for green businesses to learn from the success of Star Trek.
Live long and prosper.