Thursday, August 20, 2009

Green Marketing and Recession

In light of growing global concern about climate change an increasing number of companies are advertising their commitment to reduce their ecological footprints. Despite obstacles and imperfections, Green marketing continues to grow.

Green Marketing, is defined as "Promotional activities aimed at taking advantage of the changing consumer attitudes toward a brand. These changes are increasingly being influenced by a firm's policies and practices that affect the quality of the environment, and reflect the level of its concern for the community."

Green marketing incorporates a broad range of activities, including product modification, changes to the production process, packaging changes, as well as modifying advertising. Green marketing is a holistic endeavour, as such, environmental considerations should be integrated into all aspects of marketing.

In 1989, Nigel Bradley introduced the term "Green Marketing Mix." He referenced six components:
  • Stopping Use
  • Less Use
  • Re-Use
  • New Use
  • Multiple Use
  • Correcting Poor Use (neutralizing use).

Clearly there is a market for Green. According to market researcher Mintel, 8 out of 10 people buy Green products or services at least occasionally. In response, the number of Green marketing initiatives are growing, (for example, the Energy Star label now appears on 11,000 different companies' models in 38 product categories), and new reports indicate a growing Green trend.

One of the major problems associated with Green marketing concerns the lack of consensus on standards. Some disreputable marketers have deliberately made false or exaggerated Green claims. This practice is known as "greenwashing" and it has contributed to consumer scepticism regarding Green claims.

However there are legal implications associated with marketing Green claims. Misleading or overstated claims can lead to regulatory or civil challenges. (The US Federal Trade Commission provides some guidance on environmental marketing claims). And prosecution is not the only concern, false or misleading Green claims will adversely impact a company's reputation.

Therefore an effective green marketing campaign involves a sincere commitment to the environment, makes claims that are accurate and backs them up with evidence. Many Green marketing campaigns also promote a change of behaviour that serves the environment and this often entails an educational component.

Green marketing not only has a reduced impact on the environment but it is preferred by small businesses because it is socially responsibile and enhances a brand’s value in people’s minds.

Although the American Marketing Association (AMA) held the first workshop on "Ecological Marketing" in 1975, the first wave of Green Marketing occurred in the 1980s following an economic recession. By the turn of the millennium, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) were widespread and the public was increasingly informed about the scientific basis for environmental concerns.

Today Green marketing makes even more sense as marketers and the wider business community are struggling to manage the effects of the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Because Green marketing recycles, uses less, and avoids waste, it is more affordable than traditional marketing and this is very attractive to businesses with tight marketing budgets.

Green marketing also makes extensive use of digital resources because this is a great way to minimize a company's marketing footprint. Digital technologies also enable companies to assess traffic for specific landing pages and it is easy to gauge traffic through social media networks. As a trackable technology, digital media allows marketers to assess ROI and this ensures that they can get the most out of their marketing dollar.

Susan Gunelius, President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., has recently suggested that Green marketing is not even an option anymore, it is a "strategic imperative." According to her, "Green strategies should be at the core of product development and positioning strategies. It shouldn’t just be an ancillary element or tactic of differentiation. It should be a key component to the brand’s overall promise."

The author continues, "Many consumers simply expect companies and brands to be making an effort to be environmentally-friendly. If brands are deemed to be wasteful and environmentally harmful, it’s likely that a certain amount of consumers will lose trust in those brands. They may even move on from those brands to find replacements that do meet their expectations for brands and companies to live up to their environmental responsibilities."

With the emergence of a new more efficient economy, marketers cannot ignore this large and growing trend. Smart marketers must ask themselves not only where the market is today but where it will be in 5 or 10 years. It is a safe bet that as noted by Gunellius, Green will be essential to a brand's survival.

"Bottom-line, green is no longer an option. It’s a must."


Related Articles:
Digital Marketing Will Thrive in a Downturn
Interactive Digital Marketing
Print Newspapers and the Growth of Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing: Making the Most of Your Marketing in a Downturn
The Growth of Digital Marketing
The Greening of Cyberspace
Twitter for Small Business
Shortening Your Sales Cycle With Social Media
Small Business Guide to Social Media
The Power of Social Media and the Importance of Market Segmentation
Social Media and Sustainability
Digital Marketing for the Young and Not so Young
Digital Marketing: Making the Most of Your Marketing in a Downturn
The Growth of Digital Marketing
The Green Market's Series on Mobile Marketing


Unknown said...

Your blog is like an encyclopedia for those who want to know more about this. Thanks for the interesting information.

Energy Rating said...

If you have a chance to join trade shows or show off your products and services, let the clients see what you're doing to save the environment. Customers always appreciate this.