Marketing, Strategy

Lessons from a Green Food Truck

New York City is a city filled with food trucks. But one in particular is causing quite a bit of stir. Neapolitan Express — the first food truck that’s ran completely on natural gas. The truck is completely sustainable with zero footprint.

I visited Neapolitan Express the other day for lunch to check it out. Knowing a little bit about the truck and it’s reputation for being green, I inquired “why a green pizza truck?” I expected the answer to go something like “we wanted to do good for the world”, or something like that. But that wasn’t the answer I got. The answer I got was they wanted to launch a truck that served authentic Neapolitan pizzas!

Let me first talk a little bit about what an authentic Neapolitan pizza is. It is a traditional Italian thin crust pizza, that’s typically made in a wood burning oven. The dough after baked some come out crispy, yet tender, and just overall delicious.

So, to make authentic Neapolitan pizzas on a food truck faced an obvious challenge — you can’t exactly fit a wood burning oven into a mobile truck. The solution came in the form of natural gas. The natural gas allowed Neapolitan Express to carry a generator that has enough juice to power a four bedroom home. This power is harness into an oven that heat up to 900 degrees (simulating a wood burning oven). The pizza is ready in 4 minutes, just like it should in a brick-and-mortar pizzeria with a wood burning oven. The result: a yummy delicious pizza — you get from a truck that you would swear that you got from a gourmet pizza place.

Now, I don’t want to minimize the effort to go green that has been put forth by Neapolitan Express. They’ve truly gone above and beyond with using recycled products and innovative pizza boxes that encourages re-use. (It folds into a nifty storage box if you have leftovers.) But for marketers, there is a subtle but important lesson here. Going green is a way of life. Going green is simply something that we as human being needs to be conscious of, if we care about our future generations. But going green in itself is not a business. You can’t sell green. Neapolitan Express, the praised green food truck, ultimately sells simply delicious pizzas.

Here is the lesson for us all:

You cannot sell green, just like you cannot sell good customer service. It is simply a way of doing business. But the business itself is about selling an amazing product. Being green, or being nice, would simply build goodwill with your customers, and that will will help you sell more of that amazing product.

This article was updated from its first publication on April, 2013.

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About Jeannie Chan

Jeannie Chan founded Curious. She is a brand strategist who takes on business problems big or small. She inspires organizations to raise the questions no one dared to ask or thought to ask. She has ignited new thinking and delivered growth to Fortune 500 companies, startups, and nonprofits. Jeannie loves espressos, and lives in New York City with her two cats and her beloved. Learn more about Jeannie at JeannieChan.com.
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