Leveraging the benefits of “compound interest”

It’s no surprise that the keys to living a healthy lifestyle require healthy eating habits filled with fruits and vegetables, regular exercise and suppressing bad habits like smoking, drinking pop and alcohol. But, I was surprised to learn of a recent study which showed that if you practice all the multiple disciplines together the effects are like compound interest.

Each of the four behaviors, practiced on their own, increased the odds of what the researchers termed “successful aging” by 30% to 50%. When practiced together, however, the behaviors seemed to produce a compound benefit greater than the sum of its parts.

Séverine Sabia, an epidemiology and public health researcher at University College London, who authored the study defined successful aging using five separate dimensions of health: cognitive, mental, physical, respiratory and cardiovascular. This is known as “real strength.”  (To read more about the study, check out this CNN article).

As I mulled over this new information, I realized that the compound interest concept could be applied to more than just health. In fact, for brands who want to reach Conscious Consumers some similar principals could apply.

For example, when you want to show these new consumers that you practice sustainability in your product do you also practice sustainability in other areas of your business? For every “green” effort you tout do you equally try to reduce your overall bad habits?


A good example of a company that continues to improve its good versus bad habits is Seventh Generation. The Seventh Generation laundry detergent was one of the first “green” products we started buying on a regular basis. As the company grew, so did the size of their distribution. But, one thing that always surprised me was the fact that I was buying biodegradable soap that was packaged in a heavy plastic bottle. Granted the bottle is recyclable, but that requires more energy and effort – sort of decreasing the benefits of the actual product. Not 100% bad, but I always thought it strange.  It also didn’t keep me from buying the product it just left me wondering why.

But now, Seventh Generation has done one better by packaging their products in new and inventive ways. That same laundry detergent now comes in a lightweight, compostable, fiber shell. This totally eliminates my need to rinse and recycle. I just toss it right in my compost bin.

 “The entire packaging system uses 66% less plastic than a typical 100 oz. 2X laundry bottle – and delivers the same number of loads!”

I applaud Seventh Generation for continuing to leverage “compound interest” by making all areas of their business sustainable and earth friendly. To learn more about how their practices, check out their sustainability report.

And for marketers, keep searching for ways to leverage components, products and processes that can produce benefits greater than the sum of its parts.