A Guide to Green Marketing

Typically, green marketing is practiced by companies that are committed to sustainable development and corporate responsibility. It’s essentially the marketing of environmentally friendly products and services. Also known as sustainable marketing, environmental marketing, or ecological marketing, green marketing is the practice of going above and beyond traditional marketing by promoting environmental core values in the hope that consumers will associate these values with their company or brand.

A third of consumers are choosing to buy from brands based on their social and environmental impact, according to a study by Unilever.

Benefits of Green Marketing

As more organizations are making an effort to implement sustainable business practices, they’re seeing they have the ability to make their products more attractive to consumers and reduce expenses, including packaging, transportation, energy or water usage, and more. The benefits are huge, as businesses are discovering that demonstrating a high level of social responsibility can work to increase brand loyalty among socially conscious consumers.

There’s an increasing number of consumers these days that fall into the LOHAS category. LOHAS stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. It “describes an integrated, rapidly growing market for goods and services that appeal to consumers whose sense of environmental and social responsibility influences their purchase decisions,” according to Wikipedia. These consumers are active supporters of environmental health and are the heaviest purchasers of green and socially responsible products. They also have the power to influence other consumers.

Companies that succeed in going green are able to attract the attention and investment dollars of those pursuing socially responsible investments (SRI), an investment strategy of owning shares of only those companies that have committed to sustainability, social responsibility, and good corporate governance.

These eco-friendly business practices offer a plethora of benefits including:

  • Reduced or zero carbon footprint
  • Recycled ingredients/materials
  • Renewable ingredients/materials
  • Reduced or zero plastic footprint
  • Sustainable manufacturing
  • Reduced or zero water pollution
  • Recyclable product
  • Eco-friendly packaging

How to Incorporate Green Marketing

If you’re looking to incorporate green marketing into your business, you could involve a number of different things from a few simple practices, to completely changing how you do business. You could involve creating an eco-friendly product, using eco-friendly packaging, adopting sustainable business practices, and focus on marketing efforts on messages that communicate a product’s green benefits.

Here are a few examples of things you can do as a part of your green marketing efforts:

  • Skip printed materials and utilize electronic marketing
  • Use eco-friendly packaging
  • Use eco-friendly power sources like wind or geothermal
  • Use eco-friendly paper and inks for print materials
  • Offer a recycling program and utilize responsible waste disposal practices
  • Use efficient packaging and shipping methods
  • Take steps to offset your environmental impact
  • Reduce production waste
  • Buy or sell locally, reducing transportation energy

There are five main green marketing strategies you may want to incorporate if you are looking to capitalize on the green movement.

Green Design

If you’re already up and running, this may be difficult for you, but it’s the most effective green marketing strategy. The product or service is designed to be green, to begin with.

Green Positioning

Green positioning is a brand positioning strategy where the company boasts its sustainability values and tries to position itself as a company that cares. They focus on getting the certifications and partnering with green organizations to open doors to the market of green consumers.

Green Pricing

The main focus of this strategy is to highlight how the green offering can help the customers save money or other resources.

Green Logistics

These are measures taken by the company to minimize the ecological impact of all logistics activities between the point of origin and the point of consumption. This is a great tool to use if you run an eCommerce store which delivers products to the customers.

Green Disposal

For businesses which generate a lot of waste material, you could tout the sustainable disposal practices you use to reduce your impact on the environment and human life.

Making Green Marketing Work

A big deterrent to many companies considering moving towards more green practices is the short term cost in comparison with the long term cost. Going green doesn’t always fit into short-term budgets that don’t internalize long-term total costs.

Usually, green marketing utilizes more expensive materials like recycled products. These added costs of green marketing are often passed along to the consumer. But a 2014 Neilsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility asked 30,000 consumers from 60 countries to explain their preferences for green products, finding the majority of consumers are willing to pay for green marketing. 55% were willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact (up from 45% in 2011), and 52% had made at least one purchase in the previous six months from at least one socially responsible company. More than half of the respondents reported checking product packaging to make sure it was not wasteful or harmful to the environment.

Green marketing can be more expensive though, but because of the increased demand, could be more profitable.