Our environment is undoubtedly vulnerable to many kinds of pollution to the extent that it has now become extremely important for us all to take giant steps to protect it. This is so because all of us draw from it a lot of resources, which we cannot get from anywhere else no matter how much we may be willing to pay for them. Resources such as air and water are some of the priceless benefits we derive from the environment, and so, preserving it is quite imperative for our own survival.
The term “green marketing” came into prominence in the late 1980s and in the early 1990s. In 1975, the American Marketing Association (AMA) held the first workshop on “Ecological Marketing”, which is the same as environmental/green marketing, the proceedings of which resulted in the authoring of a book entitled “Ecological Marketing” by Karl and Thomas.
According to the AMA, green marketing is the marketing of products that are presumed to be environmentally safe. Thus, green marketing incorporates a broad range of activities, including product modification, changes to the production process, packaging changes, as well as modifying advertising. It also refers to the process of selling products and/or services based on their environmental benefits. Such a product or service may be environmentally friendly in itself or produced and/or packaged in an environmentally friendly way.
Environmental marketing is a broadly used term that can describe any marketing message that touts a company’s ecologically safer products or processes, including recyclable and biodegradable packaging, energy-efficient operations, better pollution controls or anything that lessens a company’s environmental or “carbon” footprint (a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide), as suggested by Brad Simonis.
Companies can often make a claim that is technically true, but eventually fail to tell the whole story, which, if known, might change the perceived benefits of their products. For instance, if a new recycled product takes more nonrenewable resources to produce than the product it replaces, a company’s green marketing claim of using recycled materials is technically true, but the process doesn’t result in a net environmental benefit.
There are, however, many interpretations of green marketing among different companies, and it looks like every single company or industry has their own definitions and the concomitant supporting claims. There is nothing wrong with these varying interpretations, but the fact still remains that green marketing must be defined within the context that makes sense to its customers.
Consumers, for their part, have to play an important role in making sure that these companies are responsible for preserving the environment. They should stop buying products from the recalcitrant companies which continue to pollute the environment with impunity.
Kumar and Meenakshi suggest that consumers should be willing to pay extra money if a company incurs extra cost in manufacturing environmentally friendly products. They have to understand that if companies have to bear all the costs of preserving the environment, they must as well encourage them to do more of that by patronising their goods and services.
It is against the foregoing discussions that it was suggested that for green marketing to be effective, business people have to adopt the following principles. You have to be genuine in marketing activities. That is doing exactly what you claim to be doing in your green marketing campaign and that the rest of your business policies are also consistent with your environmentally friendly claims.
As a green marketer you need to educate your customers by letting them know you’re doing whatever you can to protect the environment and why it really matters. Otherwise, for a significant portion of your target market it’s a case of “so what?” and your green marketing campaign goes nowhere. Also, give your customers the opportunity to participate in all positive environmental activities.
According to Jacquelyn Ottman, from an organisational standpoint, environmental considerations should be integrated into all aspects – new product development and communications and all points in between. The holistic nature of green also suggests that besides suppliers and retailers, new stakeholders be enlisted, including educators, members of the community, regulators and non-governmental organisations. Environmental issues should be balanced with primary customer needs.
Sometimes the best thing to do with a bandwagon is to jump on it. You have to walk the talk and actually implement green policies and act in environmentally friendly ways for green marketing to flourish.
Credit: Bala Sa-ad. Source: Daily Graphic