This article published March 2017. For latest news THIS MONTH'S ISSUE
GreenPrint, the reduced emissions platform which provides turnkey sustainability and engagement for fuel and product marketers, travel companies and fleet owners, is bridging the gap from current to future fuel and vehicle consumption patterns and is bang on trend.
“We like to think of ourselves as a bridge to the future - no one knows what that will hold,” says GreenPrint CEO and founder Pete Davis. “We don’t think we are going to replace whatever fuel or vehicle there will be in future, we are just going to be the bridge to get there.”
Launched in 2014, and operational with retail clients for two years, GreenPrint’s arrival on the fuel and retailing scene is timely indeed.
Electrification is clearly on the cards, witness the arrival of the ground-breaking Tesla Model S and the stances and subsidies for Electric Vehicles (EVs) taken by both Norway and the Netherlands, two countries that are aiming to phase out all fossil fuel-powered automobiles by 2025.
From a global perspective, however, mass adoption of electric is still a long way off, which opens doors to operations like GreenPrint that provide an opportunity for environmentally-aware consumers to neutralize their emissions, generated by conventional fueling, through certified carbon offset projects and planting trees.
The concept certainly has legs, nay wheels, as Davis a former P&G CPG specialist and loyalty scheme operator, can testify.
He set up GreenPrint in 2014 following a career in consumer packaged goods with Procter & Gamble and latterly with a company that ran loyalty and affinity marketing programmes for retailers, banks and airlines.
The genesis for GreenPrint was spawned in the loyalty programme space, when Davis ran a rewards scheme for RBS in conjunction with Kroger, which earned shoppers points through gasoline purchases. It gave Davis insight on fuel buying - a price-driven commodity product - while his background in consumer packaged goods awakened him to the fact that many key grocery products, such as free range eggs, have been reinvented and shoppers were now willing to pay a premium for those lines.
“I came up with the idea to reinvent fuel and change its value proposition by selling carbon neutral, reduced emission fuel,” he explains.
For every gallon of fuel a retailer sells, GreenPrint calculates the emissions and then offsets those emissions by investing in certified alternative energy projects, working in tandem with the Arbor Day Foundation plus 2,000 non-profits.
The GreenPrint model has two revenue streams: a retail business, currently operational in the US at 200 locations; and corporation fleets, representing 40,000 corporate fleet operations in the US and eight European countries.
The business is also in discussion with two key European retailers, Davis reports.
He likens the GreenPrint concept to the Clean Air Act in California, which also aims for carbon neutrality. And, although he does not believe in enforced regulation, he acknowledges there is a consumer thirst and appetite for alternative energy vehicles and concepts. “Consumers want it and we want to work with field marketers to help build competitive advantage without consumers having to buy new vehicles with unproven technology,” he says.
“GreenPrint resonates with customers, consumers and drivers,” he adds. “When we explain the concept, people say they can’t believe it’s not been done before.”
The stats on consumer attitudes to sustainability issues, work in its favour too:
Further, certain segments over-index when it comes to making sustainable choices. These include females and Millennials, which bodes well for GreenPrint’s future success. “I’m constantly receiving positive comments from people,” says Davis. “We have at least two customers with children who have done projects on the “cool programme their Dad is doing at work”,” he says. “I like to use the analogy that we are recycling. When I grew up, people did not recycle but now everywhere in the US you can put out your recycling bin, along with the trash, and it’s easy to do. In the same way, people can travel a little bit further but go and fill up and be green.”
In essence, GreenPrint’s business demonstrates that sustainability is becoming an expected standard and the average global consumer wants a sustainable fuel product and is willing to pay more.
The buy in from retailers to the GreenPrint model - each one has begun with a pilot location but has subsequently been extended - suggests it creates competitive edge too. Davis reports the cost has been whittled dow to a quarter of a penny per gallon or a 10th of a per cent of the price. The fact the donation is self-imposed is another win-win, a factor Davis learnt from his loyalty programme days.
“If you give consumers the choice to opt in and pay more and be good, they don’t take that path, they take the points. But if you decided to do good on their behalf, they will reward you with their loyalty - it creates a halo effect,” he says.
As well as building customer engagement, GreenPrint has driven increased fuel volumes at retail sites - even when prices have been increased at launch - reduced price sensitivity and increased in-store traffic. Survey data also reveals that consumers have an increased propensity to spend more in store following GreenPrint’s introduction.
“It is driving loyalty,” says Davis, who likes to visualise the concept in a venn diagram, with three intersecting bubbles: one for loyalty, one for community engagement and one for charitable giving. Fuel sits in the intersection of the three circles and reducing carbon emissions is a product attribute, he explains.
Like premium, free range and organic groceries, reduced emission fuel is a different product, he maintains. “It’s better for the environment. It’s not a different fuel but has been scientifically proved to reduce emissions, which is certified by a top three accounting firm and our clients get that reporting.”
Emissions tend to be calculated on a monthly basis by fuel volume, by grade and location. Regional emissions data is typically pooled for offset investment in larger, certified alternative energy projects; while tree planting is a more localised initiative and deployed as a marketing tool. Typically, GreenPrint will help select a school or a park in a market where a client has 20-locations and will plant trees in support of the programme.
GreenPrint’s next move is expanding its fleet business in Europe, where adoption has been much quicker and to win retail business there too.
Further US expansion is also on the cards with existing customers and leading convenience chains with plans for a pilot with one top operator. “We’ve been in business for three years and in the market for two and we turned profitable in the middle of last year,” Davis says.
The future for the reduced emissions platform looks very bright - or should that be green - indeed.
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