Miura makes green by going green

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Despite an international reputation for manufacturing efficient, cost-reducing steam boilers, Miura Boiler faced initial difficulties replicating that success in the U.S. Since expanding into North America in the late 1980s, the Japan-based manufacturer struggled against U.S. competitors with established local reputations. Companies were unwilling to invest in Miura equipment and technology with which they were unfamiliar. Armed with a quality-yet-underperforming product, Miura needed to better educate companies on its steam boilers' competitive advantages to increase sales and grow its languishing market share. Strategy:
To improve brand recognition and educational outreach, Miura first tried partnering with authoritative voices in the energy industry such as the Department of Energy and American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

“We tried to explain how our technology worked to replace anxiety about our product with an appreciation [for it],” said Jason Smith, an energy and environmental specialist in Miura's Atlanta office.

Miura also looked for a revamped marketing campaign to further educate companies about its steam boilers' benefits. Three years ago, it hired Great Neck, N.Y.-based Marcomm Group, an integrated communications firm, to handle its marketing. Marcomm helped conceive a message focused on the technology's high efficiency to reach a new audience interested in green culture.

However, the effort initially met some hesitation because of the ongoing debate over global warming. Some companies interested in installing the steam boilers might have been turned off by ads exclusively on sustainability, Marcomm President Bob Lipp said. Therefore, the first campaign, launched in 2007, emphasized how Miura technology could help companies save money, introducing its green benefits as a secondary message.

But when rising gas and oil prices forced companies to look for cost-cutting alternatives, Miura and Marcomm saw an opportunity to reach the entire market.

They revised the message, and the resulting campaign highlighted how Miura steam boilers could help companies reduce their carbon footprints while saving them money in terms of their gas and oil expenditures. After its print-only first campaign, Marcomm rolled out “Think Green, Save Green,” a campaign that featured online video, microsites, e-mail blasts, public relations and social media.

“The campaign talks about the green benefits of our product without alienating conservative companies [in the global warming debate, which] were more concerned with the economic benefits of our technology,” Smith said.

Miura and Marcomm also tailored the campaign to target individual industries reliant on steam boilers, such as hospitals and food processing, consistently rolling out microsites and social media with content unique to the specific sectors.

Since revising its marketing, Miura's U.S. market share has doubled from between 4% to 5% to around 10%. And even despite the economic downturn, the company expanded its North American operation by building a new facility in Atlanta that opened last year.

The original campaign ran for one year. The revised “Think Green, Save Green” campaign has run for 18 months to date.

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