In today’s business world, environmental issues plays an important role in marketing. All most all the governments around the world have concerned about green marketing activities that they have attempted to regulate them.
Many people believe that green marketing refers solely to the promotion or advertising of products with environmental characteristics. Generally terms like Phosphate Free, Recyclable, Refillable, Ozone Friendly, and Environmentally Friendly are some of the things consumers most often associate with green marketing. In general green marketing is a much broader concept, one that can be applied to consumer goods, industrial goods and even services. For example, around the world there are resorts that are beginning to promote themselves as “ecotourism” facilities, i.e., facilities that specialize in experiencing nature or operating in a fashion that minimizes their environmental impact. Thus 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 defined as “Green or Environmental Marketing consists of all activities designed to generate and facilitate any exchanges intended to satisfy human needs or wants, such that the satisfaction of these needs and wants occurs, with minimal detrimental impact on the natural environment.”
This definition of Green marketing incorporates much of the traditional components of the marketing definition, that is “All activities designed to generate and facilitate any exchanges intended to satisfy human needs or wants” Therefore it ensures that the interests of the organization and all its consumers are protected, as voluntary exchange will not take place unless both the buyer and seller mutually benefit. The above definition also includes the protection of the natural environment, by attempting to minimize the detrimental impact this exchange has on the environment. This second point is important, for human consumption by its very nature is destructive to the natural environment. So green marketing should look at minimizing environmental harm, not necessarily eliminating it.
Opportunities of Green Marketing
All types of consumers, both individual and industrial are becoming more concerned and aware about the natural environment. As demands change, many firms see these changes as an opportunity to be exploited. It can be assumed that firms marketing goods with environmental characteristics will have a competitive advantage over firms marketing non-environmentally responsible alternatives. There are numerous examples of firms who have strived to become more environmentally responsible, in an attempt to better satisfy their consumer need. McDonald’s replaced its clam shell packaging with waxed paper because of increased consumer concern relating to polystyrene production and Ozone depletion. Xerox introduced a “high quality” recycled photocopier paper in an attempt to satisfy the demands of firms for less environmentally harmful products. There are two real advantages for a small business becoming green. One is branding and marketing advantage. The other is the impact on the bottom line. More and more companies are incorporating profit-centered activities with environmentally friendly practices. Shell are practicing environmental sustainability, producing profits whilst also attempting to improve living conditions and maximize life quality. Other organizations, like Wrap and Heinz, have joined forces in a project of product stewardship, redesigning materials used in can ends and bodies in order to reduce the impact of the product on the environment not just in its lifetime but also in order to reduce its effect as waste.
The 4 P’s of Green Marketing
Every company has its own favorite marketing mix. Some have 4 P’s and some have 7 P’s marketing mix. The 4 P’s of green marketing are that of a conventional marketing but the challenge before is to use 4 P’s in an innovative manner.
- Price: Although many consumers state willingness to pay slightly more for green products, the price needs to remain close to alternatives to attract less green consumers. There must be a careful balance between: profits, productivity, environment and people. To justify extra charges green products should offer increased product value through: performance, function, design.
- Product: Green products need proof of reduction of resource consumption, pollution. Eco-friendly products can state there green as a differentiating factor. Product labeling trends include: energy saving, organic, green chemicals, local sourcing. Companies can label products green simply by using eco-friendly packaging.
- Place: Companies can reduce their carbon footprint by: managing logistics, such as transport costs, and raw materials sourcing. Companies should carefully consider where and when to sell green products. Many consumers will travel out of their way to buy green, but most want ease of access and will buy non-green when convenient.
- Promotion: Matching marketing mix to customer green needs by: focusing on relationship between product/ service and environment, promoting green lifestyle benefits. Corporate image is important and CSR demonstrates commitment to green. Social media plays a central role in promoting the activities of green companies. There is even scope for consumer interaction and tastemaker associations from this platform.
Three Keys to Successful Green Marketing
Show potential customers that you follow green business practices and you could reap more green on your bottom line. Green Marketing isn’t just a catchphrase; it’s a marketing strategy that can help you get more customers and make more money. But only if you do it right.
For green marketing to be effective, you have to do three things; be genuine, educate your customers, and give them the opportunity to participate.
- Being Genuine: Being Genuine means that a) that you are actually doing what you claim to be doing in your green marketing campaign and b) that the rest of your business policies are consistent with whatever you are doing that’s environmentally friendly.
- Educating your Customers: Educating your Customers isn’t just a matter of letting people know you’re doing whatever you’re doing to protect the environment, but also a matter of letting them know why it matters Otherwise, for a significant portion of your target market, it’s a case of “So what?” And your green marketing campaign goes nowhere.
- Giving your customer an opportunity to participate: Giving your customer an opportunity to participate means personalizing the benefits of your environmentally friendly actions, normally through letting the customer take part in positive environmental action.
Damage to Green Brand
Too often green marketing is seen by organizations as a marketing tool by which companies merely adapt their product to suit demand for environmentally friendly products. In some cases firms have misled consumers in an attempt to gain market share. In other cases firms have jumped on the green bandwagon without considering the accuracy of their behavior, their claims, or the effectiveness of their products. This lack of consideration of the true “greenness” of activities may result in firms making false or misleading green marketing claims. Unfortunately, some companies practice green marketing at the most basic level because there are so many meanings and issues related to environmentalism (such as sustainability, animal conservation, human rights, planet conservation, fair trade, organic trade, corporate social responsiveness etc) that green marketing becomes much more complex than the term may at first suggest. There has been a significant backlash against green marketing. Organizations in the 1990s were thought merely to have paid lip service to green marketing in order to make profits from rising consumer concerns regarding the environment following tragedies such as the Bhopal chemical poisonings (1984), Chernobyl’s fatal radioactivity release (1986) and the Exxon Valdez oil spill (1989). Green marketing was also discredited because of under-performing products, products made from re-cycled material were seen as inferior, overzealous promotion campaigns, inexact science (terms such as biodegradable, recyclable and environmentally friendly — were unproven) and legislation was inconsistent. There was no scientific proof that these ‘environmentally friendly ‘ products had any more positive effects on the environment than their predecessors, but companies were making money and enhancing their reputations as caring organizations based on these spurious claims. Marketers sometimes take advantage of this confusion, and purposely make false or exaggerated “green” claims. Critics refer to this practice as Greenwashing. Greenwashing is described as putting a lettuce in the window of your butchers shop and declaring you now cater for vegetarians. The Six Sins of Greenwashing as:
- The Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off (“Okay, this product comes from a sustainably harvested forest, but what are the impacts of its milling and transportation? Is the manufacturer also trying to reduce those impacts?”)
- The Sin of No Proof (e.g., “product that claims not to have been tested on animals, but offer no evidence or certification of this claim”)
- The Sin of Vagueness (terms like “all-natural,” and “environmentally friendly”)
- The Sin of Irrelevance (claims such as a “water-efficient lightbulb,” where the claimed attribute is not normally an area of concern)
- The Sin of Fibbing (completely unsubstantiated claims)
- The Sin of Lesser of Two Evils (“organic” cigarettes or “green” insecticides)
Challenges of Green Marketing
- Need for Standardization: It is found that only 5% of the marketing messages from “Green” campaigns are entirely true and there is a lack of standardization to authenticate these claims. There is no standardization to authenticate these claims. There is no standardization currently in place to certify a product as organic. Unless some regulatory bodies are involved in providing the certifications there will not be any verifiable means. A standard quality control board needs to be in place for such labeling and licensing.
- New Concept: Indian literate and urban consumer is getting more aware about the merits of Green products. But it is still a new concept for the masses. The consumer needs to be educated and made aware of the environmental threats. The new green movements need to reach the masses and that will take a lot of time and effort. By India’s ayurvedic heritage, Indian consumers do appreciate the importance of using natural and herbal beauty products. Indian consumer is exposed to healthy living lifestyles such as yoga and natural food consumption. In those aspects the consumer is already aware and will be inclined to accept the green products.
- Patience and Perseverance: The investors and corporate need to view the environment as a major long-term investment opportunity, the marketers need to look at the long-term benefits from this new green movement. It will require a lot of patience and no immediate results. Since it is a new concept and idea, it will have its own acceptance period.
- Avoiding Green Myopia: The first rule of green marketing is focusing on customer benefits i.e. the primary reason why consumers buy certain products in the first place. Do this right, and motivate consumers to switch brands or even pay a premium for the greener alternative. It is not going to help if a product is developed which is absolutely green in various aspects but does not pass the customer satisfaction criteria. This will lead to green myopia. Also if the green products are priced very high then again it will lose its market acceptability.