It’s safe to say that in recent years, awareness for sustainability and sensitivity towards environmental issues have become quite a trend among youngsters when we see young people like Greta Thunberg becoming the face of environmental activism. And just like other trends, many marketers have tapped on this trend too. Thus, like Digital Marketing, Internet Marketing and the likes, we have Green Marketing.
So, what exactly is Green Marketing?
Realizing the increasing sensitivity towards the environment in mass, many companies are now trying to capitalize on it by adapting eco-friendly ways of producing and delivering their goods and services or by donating a certain percentage of their profits to environmental initiatives. Precisely, Green Marketing signifies a company’s efforts to market itself as environmentally conscious to those consumers wanting to spend their money in a way that is considerate of the planet. However, it comes with an addition in cost which the consumers falling in the category of LOHAS don’t mind paying. According to the official site of LOHAS-
“LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability and is based on the work of US sociologist Paul H. Ray. [which] describes a type of consumer that actively seeks out healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, product and service options and also the market for the products and services they buy.”
How Green Marketing works?
Green Marketing has become one of the key components of healthy business practices and a significant criteria for many customers while choosing a company to buy their desired products from. Nowadays, consumers have increasingly come to expect from companies to demonstrate their approach towards environmentally-sound business practices alongside ESG (Environmental. Social and Governance) criteria of such companies. Apart from making eco-friendly products, there are many other things that business owners can do as a part of Green Marketing strategy. Below are some example-
- Having eco-friendly product packaging,
- Using eco-friendly power sources,
- Regularly tapping on more eco-friendly technological advancements,
- Having an efficient recycling program,
- Practicing responsible waste disposal,
- Adopting shipping methods that minimise carbon footprint,
- Taking environmental initiatives,
- Donating a portion of their profits to environmental initiatives,
- Issuing CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) statements demonstrating the company’s concerns, intentions and contributions to environmental sustainability,
- Spreading awareness for sustainability, etc.
By understanding the above approaches and applying them in the relevant way, businesses can utilize the concept of Green Marketing.
An actual example of Green Marketing
In green marketing practices, Starbucks is often cited as a pioneer. One might find Starbucks pretty overpriced but regardless, many people prefer Starbucks in place of other alternatives. This is because Starbucks Corporation has successfully built their image as an ally of environmentalism based on their commitment to proper waste disposal and reduction of material use. The company has also invested heavily in social and environmental initiatives. To name one, in the 2018 Global Social Impact Report, Starbucks was said to have committed about $140 million on the development of renewable sources of energy from 2016 to 2018. Looking through the lens of an investor, such initiatives can help build a great brand value.
Criticism of Green Marketing.
Since environmental friendly business practices come with additional overhead expenses, it becomes exacerbating for small and mid-sized companies to employ such strategies, thus, making their survival furthermore challenging. Changing marketing strategies is itself an expensive process and choosing eco-friendly alternatives make it all the more costlier. Besides, to market its products as “green”, a company needs to obtain a “Green Certificate” which is a long and pricey process. Hence, only a select few companies can make use of Green Marketing. Along with the given disadvantages, a major drawback piercing ethics of sound business practices is Greenwashing.
Green Marketing v/s Greenwashing
The basic difference between Green Marketing and Greenwashing is that Green Marketing aims at marketing one’s company/brand as nature-friendly by actually adopting eco-friendly measures while Greenwashing implies only to create an impression that a company/brand is environment-friendly when it may actually be not the case. It does not mean that a company essentially spreads false information but it can mislead its consumers by magnifying a small eco-friendly detail of their manufacturing process which might not be as substantial. For example, companies selling water in disposable plastic bottles are very harmful to the environment. But still, many such companies advertise that their packaging is “100% Recyclable” to divert us from the fact that their entire production process is so polluting.
Just like there are two sides of the same coin, Green Marketing has both pros and cons. On one hand, Green Marketing has pushed many major companies to adopt business practices that are kinder to nature, thus creating a decent ESG standard While on the other hand, many companies employ Green Marketing strategies only superficially, thus creating only an illusion of a greener world.
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