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In June, I was honored to be a guest of the Eastman Chemical Company at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, held in Washington, D.C. Eastman was recognized for the development of a green biocatalytic process that eliminates the need for high temperatures and strong acids in manufacturing esters. The honor I felt being invited to the ceremony was quickly accompanied by a strong sense of humility. We know there are brilliant minds behind the products we reach for, bleary-eyed, each morning, and we know that there are years of hard work invested in the creams we apply each evening as our last task before slumber. But when a U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard snaps to attention and the acting director of the EPA talks about initiatives and outcomes, it’s clear we are involved in a bigger picture. These brilliant minds make a difference in a much broader scope, and the good work the industry does is not limited in application to outward appearances.
Whether the goal is changing the world or simply creating and maintaining a successful brand or business, there are two components that are key: striving to understand those whom we are serving and forging mutually beneficial partnerships.
“It is critical that we start with a deep understanding of consumers and their buying habits and preferences,” Thomas Jonas, president of MWV Personal & Beauty Care, told me in a conversation about the current challenges to the industry and how to forge through them. “The challenge on which we will partner with [brand owners] is understanding how that experience varies among consumers across all demographics, geographies and preferences.”
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