Today, we are concerned with environmental issues more than ever. Air pollution, plastic in oceans, global warming, and food waste — all are among the major threats, making us worry and think of being kinder to the planet. In support of environmental health, millions have joined LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability), heavily purchasing socially responsible products – despite their higher cost.
Gripping the trend, companies are turning to a marketing strategy that helps to hook such consumers in, addressing their social responsibility and, therefore, influencing their purchasing decisions.This strategy is known as green marketing.
What is green marketing?
In plain English, green marketing refers to selling products or services by highlighting their environmental benefits. Some call it eco-marketing or environmental marketing, and consumers recognize such brands by terms like "organic," "eco-friendly," "recyclable," or "sustainable."
The concept of green marketing appeared as the after-effect of humans' negative impact on our planet.
The concept of green marketing:
Brands illustrate how they change their missions and practices from revenue-driven to environmentally aware by business processes that have the least impact on the environment as possible.
Goals of green marketing:
- Implementing sustainable business practices
- Demonstrating social responsibility
- Reducing expenses (packaging, transportation, energy/water usage, etc.)
- Demonstrating how safe and mindful products or services are
In the tradition of green marketing, brands launch eco-friendly products or create the corresponding environment around them by using eco-friendly packaging or refuse from it, make products recyclable and reusable, use green energy for product production, design products from recycled materials to reduce waste, choose local selling to reduce transportation energy, and more.
As a part of green marketing, brands also often participate in recycling programs, become more scrupulous about waste disposal practices, donate to different green movements, and don't forget to educate their customers about what they do to protect the environment and why it matters.
For integrating green marketing into your overall business brand marketing strategy, you can do the following:
- Communicate your green message through advertising (digital, TV, radio)
- Promote green aspects of your company through content assets at all points of customer contact (a website, blogs, e-mail, social media, mobile marketing, coupons, word-of-mouth, cold calls, retargeting, etc.)
- Initiate market research and visualize the results to educate consumers and recommend green improvements to your niche
- Partner with like-minded businesses for cross-promotion
- Support eco-friendly programs and corresponding community initiatives
- Focus on green production
In other words, twist green into a part of your brand's identity. To make it work, become fully committed to the concept of green marketing in your marketing plan.
This includes green design, positioning, pricing, logistics, and disposal. When making environmental consciousness a No. 1 focus of your business, you succeed with both sales and consumer loyalty.
In the long term, green brands get more profits and establish a reputation of being trustworthy.
TIP: Learn about the best sustainability software for environmentally-friendly companies in 2019.
The green marketing paradigm
Green marketing is not only about promoting products or services with environmental characteristics. It involves brand modification and changes in the manufacturing process. It's about taking a different perspective on marketing, considering the global consequences we have on environmental degradation. It's about a brand's ability to satisfy customer needs with minimum harm to the environment.
Given that, a new marketing paradigm emerged, with the concept where consumers have an active role in brands' green initiatives – obtaining sustainable benefits from them.
(Source: J. Ottman Consulting, Inc)
Sustainable examples of green marketing
The examples listed below are socially responsible, considering the long term environmental impacts of their business practices. They have launched green marketing campaigns to promote sustainable core values. They surpass traditional marketing strategies, educating conscious consumption to people. And here's how.
Patagonia contributes to climate change issues and works on discovering sustainable ways to produce products. At the same time, the brand's honest with customers, admitting it's not entirely green: The shell of coats are made of fossil fuels. But this fact doesn't influence the positive image of the brand, as the community sees its sincere passion for helping the planet.
Patagonia's green marketing strategy and involvement in the Go Green movement is stated in the company's mission. Also, it regularly donates millions to initiatives supporting sustainable agriculture practices, protecting endangered species, and restoring forests.
Starbucks has been certified by LEED since 2005, but it has move beyond that by planning to eliminate all plastic straws by 2020 and open 10,000 environmentally friendly stores by 2025.
Starbucks tries hard to engage its community in sustainable issues. It uses green materials for producing, packaging, and delivering its product to customers. As part of its "Green Store" initiative, the brand also plans to reduce waste and use 30 percent less water and 25 percent less power during production processes.
The brand designs disposable coffee cups, is involved in recycling and green building, supports farmers and the environmentally sustainable community, and has been hard at work on communicating this message to its target audience.
World-known clothing manufacturer and retailer Timberland uses sustainable stories to introduce its products. As active LOHAS supporters, its clients wouldn't choose the brand if there was no green element in it.
"We’ve done a lot of consumer research, and we know that if we put two products side-by-side – one from our brand and one from a competitor’s – and if they’re comparable in price and quality, the majority of the time, a customer will choose our product if it’s made with some sort of ‘green’ element," said Margaret Morey-Reuner, director of Timberland’s strategic partnerships and business development.
To develop and implement the corresponding green marketing strategy, the company continues to expand partnerships and test materials for its products. It has established environmental standards (TEPS) across all product categories and plans to have 100 percent organic and renewable material by 2020.
This brand uses many tactics and sources to manage waste and renew energy. Ninety percent of its buildings have solar panels, it uses wind farms to generate energy, and it has planted millions of trees, while sending only 15 percent of waste to landfills.
Ikea has developed a strategy known as People & Planet Positive, encouraging consumers to be environmentally conscious. It manufactures products through eco-friendly practices, which relieves us from the necessity to choose between stylish design and sustainability.
The brand holds many rewards for its green efforts. It's recognized by the Impact Company for showing respect for human and economic rights, as well as its contribution to the environment through regenerative efforts. And Ikea isn't going to stop there, it is currently working toward 100 percent renewable energy and spending a fortune on its green initiatives.
5. The Body Shop
This brand is known for its effective green positioning. The Body Shop is approved by Leaping Bunny, the gold standard for non-animal tested products. It also supports farmers, defends human rights, initiates health treatments and training events for employees, identifies its values as to protect the planet, and –what's more important – actually lives up to those values.
The Body Shop is known for promoting awareness of domestic violence and AIDS, and it doesn't use demeaning-to-women images in ads. By 2020, the brand's goal is to develop a new sustainable package for its products, use 10 percent less and 100 percent renewable energy in stores, green building, and more.
P.S. Other green marketing campaigns worth mentioning:
- Coca-Cola, with its PlantBottle campaign, aiming at empowering female entrepreneurs, encouraging a healthy lifestyle, and helping to conserve water worldwide by 2020.
- PepsiCo, with its campaigns on reducing water and energy usage across all business operations. (In 2012, it got the Stockholm Industry Water Award for it.)
- Tom’s of Maine, with its #GREENSCHOOLFUND campaign, teaching students how to contribute to a cleaner environment.
- Hershey, with its environmentally-friendly practices, aiming at reducing greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2025.
- Seventh Generation, with #ComeClean and #GenerationGood campaigns, encouraging manufacturers to green all production processes.
Other ways tech impacts the environment
For those willing to join green marketing and show love for our planet, focus on brand content to let the world know about your endeavors.
The most effective platforms are your website, blog, and social media pages. Promote your eco-friendly marketing to environmentally aware consumers, build an emotional connection with them, and make green efforts a part of your brand's story.
Show the audience what's in your business beyond money-making and marketing.