Sustainability Management at Nau Inc.

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG080
Case Length : 20 Pages
Period : 2004-07
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Nau Inc.
Industry : Apparel Manufacturing and Retailing
Countries : US

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"In many ways, Nau is the inevitable product of our post-Enron, Web 2.0, neo-green era. The founders have taken all of the progressive business buzzwords - from corporate social responsibility to grassroots participation to design thinking - and thrown them into the mix."1

- Fast Company, June 2007.

"Sustainability was at the forefront of our thought process from day one. Companies should have a much larger responsibility to the community than the singular pursuit of profit."2

- Ian Yolles, Vice President, Marketing, Nau Inc., August 2007.

"We are challenging the nature of capitalism. We started with a clean white board. We believed every single operational element in our business was an opportunity to turn traditional business notions inside out, integrating environmental, social and economic factors. Nau represents new form of activism: business activism."3

- Chris Van Dyke, CEO, Nau Inc, June 2007.

Not Just Another Green Company

In October 2006, Creativity4 magazine published an annual list of marketers worldwide who had put creativity at the forefront in their bid to connect with consumers and had come out with some of the best brand messages. Portland, US-based apparel maker Nau Inc. (Nau) was one of the companies that featured on the list along with Volkswagen, HP, and kayak.com5. According to Teressa Iezzi, Editor, Creativity, "One marketer in our report this year is looking to do nothing less than change the world, one versatile fleece jacket at a time. Outdoor apparel company Nau is building its whole business on sustainability and involving consumers in its story right from the outset.

We include such an upstart in the report not just because they have honorable intentions.

They are also a great case study of an intention brought to life - a company being created from scratch based on many of the things marketers talk about now - things like design, sustainability, consumer participation, and giving back."6

Nau, a technical and lifestyle outdoor apparel company, started selling its products in mid-2007.

Its business model integrated environmental, social, and economic factors and the company believed that businesses had as much responsibility toward the communities in which they operated as they did to shareholders.

Sustainability Management at Nau Inc. - Next Page>>

1] Polly LaBarre, "Leap of Faith,"Fast Company, June 2007.

2] Daniel Honigman, "Green is More than a Clothing Color at Nau,"Pioneer Local, August 22, 2007.

3] Polly LaBarre, "Leap of Faith,"Fast Company, June 2007.

4] New York-based Creativity, founded in 1986, is a monthly magazine that covers topics including TV commercials, print advertisements, campaigns, and issues related to creativity. Creativity is a publication of Crain Communications Inc.

5] is a US-based travel search engine. The search engine consolidates information from various travel and hotel related sites to provide the results.

6] Teressa Iezzi, "Editor's Letter,"Creativity, October 2006.


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