“A business that makes nothing but money, is a poor business ” – Daniel Howden
Green marketing is an essential marketing concept for marketing new products and services. Many global companies claim that they support the environment and are moving to more sustainable and eco-business friendly practices, but what does that even mean? It’s important to understand that green marketing is a complex matter that has moved beyond recycled paper and consumer communication. The business will need to look deep internally and externally at it’s operations and it’s products. There is much to plan for and it’s not just a simple case of checking the “we’re now green, come buy our products”.
According to Greenbiz there are five essential green strategies that every organisation should consider from the top down, bottom up approach (and I am sure you may even add many more). This post summarizes them for consideration:
- Walk the talk – A committed CEO and management team that has clear vision and respects the environment and community in which it operates. Management needs to step in by example and empower employees through education about climate change, cleaner energy, technology and consumer behaviours. All employees need to think about their products and services and identify ways to become involved, whether this is through research or development, product innovation or customer service. It is refreshing to note that HSBC became the first bank to become carbon neutral. This means that their products and services produce zero greenhouse gas emissions, an outstanding achievement for public recognition and customer interest. Management will also need to communicate their values around sustainability and be practical in their every day approaches. I’ve mentioned that organisations should move beyond recycled paper but in all seriousness this is a very good starting point. Recycled paper harvested and printed with soy based inks will reduce environmental impacts. Marketing managers should look at their customer communications and consider sustainable approaches – ask questions like, can this paper based drop be eliminated completely and replaced with social media?
- Be transparent – Provide access to product details and corporate practices. Organisations should consider membership of the United Nations Environment program, ISO and other voluntary groups, having your brand aligned and affiliated to these bodies act as a marketing strategy in itself, boosting the overall brand of the product and that it cares for it’s footprint. Honesty is essential when selling products and services.
- Enlist the support of third parties – eco-labels, enviromental product declarations and cause marketing are just a few examples. Energy star is a good example as this becomes instantly recognizable for consumers who are on the hunt for a new fridge or dishwasher. In it’s simplest form Energy star relates to it’s industry rating of how efficient it will be on energy and water use. It’s something that many consumers are interested in these days, particularly as they are looking at ways or maximising their return of investment on a new product and it’s ongoing costs in the household. I also like the suggestion that if a company is unable to affiliate or join an eco label, that they should consider creating their own.
- Promote responsible consumption through the product life cycle – New product development is all about it’s starting origins, growth, maturity of the product and eventually end of life. Correct use and disposal of products is an essential marketing strategy which sends a clear message that the organisation is not just interested in revenue but also how consumers utilize, re-use and correctly dispose of products. We only have to think about the average battery these days and while great for kids toys, present a challenge for disposal. It all starts with the product label and interestingly enough, many consumers will look at the product and it’s environmental claims. Other examples relate to printers and ink. HP for example has a comprehensive recycling and re-use process through the life of it’s products. You could almost argue that without this in place, a company with these products could almost diminish and cease to exist if they did not do this?
- Focus on the benefits – It’s important to wrap the benefits around the product and tell a story through the brand about environmental responsibility, from the manufacturer to the consumer and also highlight the facts. “The most dramatic result in energy use is from the highest-consuming large appliance in a house, the refrigerator, which has reduced energy consumption on average by over 60 percent” – Fisher&Paykel.
Do you agree with these strategies? what others can you think of? or as a consumer do you scan a product for environmental friendliness? Which organisations tend to greenwash consumers over their products and hide the facts because they are not particular proud of them?