Green marketing is a marketing strategy in which a product’s environmental friendliness is emphasised and used as a selling point. In a nutshell, listed below are the 3 principles of green marketing:
- Environmentally Friendly Products
- Affordable Pricing
- Marketing Environmental Credentials
A growing number of brands are committing to environmental sustainability and social responsibility, reflecting the continuing expansion of ethical consciousness among consumers worldwide. By highlighting the eco-friendly attributes of their products, brands engaging in green marketing hope to appeal to this rise in ethical consciousness. And, by choosing ethical suppliers and getting their green marketing right, brands can expect to bolster their sales and establish their ethical reputation long term.
To shed some light, we delve deeper to understand what these three principles of green marketing encompass.
1 – Environmentally Friendly Products
To engage in green marketing, you must first have a product with one or more green attributes – with some form of eco-friendly trait.
Consumers are notoriously sceptical of claims of environmental friendliness when they’re attached to products. Suspicions arise from the idea that many brands are simply making such claims in attempts to cash in on the growth of environmental consciousness. Claims of eco-friendliness are easily made, and dubious claims made merely in an effort to jump on the environmental bandwagon (a.k.a. ‘greenwashing’) cause reputation-damaging backlash when they’re exposed. So make sure you have evidence to back your product’s claims of eco-friendliness. External certification authenticating your product’s green attributes is one reliable earner of trust.
Brands must also ensure that other aspects of their product don’t contradict the product’s green attributes. Take, for example, a brand selling washing detergent. The detergent is packaged in recycled cardboard, and the brand uses this as a pretext for marketing the detergent as a green product. If the detergent is then later discovered to contain environmentally damaging chemicals, then the brand’s green marketing efforts will rightly be considered a sham. Lasting damage will have been done to the brand’s reputation and they’d have ruined any chance of making further credible use of green marketing. Brands should only market products as green if that’s truly what they are.
2 – Affordable Pricing
Practicality often overrides environmental sentiment. Green marketing suffers from the reputation that eco-friendliness often comes at an expense. While the majority of consumers now say they’d be prepared to pay extra for environmentally friendly products, when faced with the constricting realities of tight budgets, buying patterns understandably fall short of stated intentions.
But this isn’t to say that the environmental consciousness of today’s consumers is all talk. Eco-friendliness does matter to consumers, it’s only the traditional matters of convenience, quality, and price remain equally as important. Those with ample disposable incomes are willing to pay considerably more for green products, but this demographic is a minority.
If you take away the added expense, then products with green attributes become a lot more attractive. Given the choice between a product and a similarly priced alternative boasting green attributes, many of today’s consumers would opt for the alternative. The lesson here is that green marketing is most effective when green attributes aren’t seen to incur extra expense. So price your green products competitively and they’re likely to sell a lot better.
3 – Marketing Environmental Credentials
In green marketing, green attributes are selling points. As such, they should be communicated loud and clear – packaging should detail a product’s green attributes in a way that’s easily seen and understood. Green attributes should also be specific. Simply labelling a product as ‘green’, or ‘eco-friendly’ says nothing. Explain what it is about a product that makes it green; i.e. whether the product is made from non-toxic materials, manufactured using renewable energy, or any other green credential.
It’s important to note that green attributes alone will not sell a product. Quality and price still matter and should still be considered accordingly. Effective green marketers maintain their focus first and foremost on the direct benefits offered by the product they’re marketing. If they’re marketing warm, durable socks, the warmth and durability remain the main selling points. Green attributes, such as the organic, sustainably grown cotton used to make the socks, are marketed as an embellishment – an extra added bonus. And that’s what green attributes should be. If a product’s green attributes come at the cost of any form of diminished quality, or significant added expense, then no amount of green marketing is likely to make that product sell successfully.
Green marketing goes beyond individual products and crosses over into branding too. Claims attesting to the eco-friendliness of a product carry much more credence when made by brands that implement and adhere to environmental commitments across the board, in all areas of their operations. A demonstrably green brand selling green products is likely to earn the trust and the custom of ethically minded consumers. A brand lacking eco-friendly substance attempting to market their products as green on the other hand is more likely to be shunned, and levelled with accusations of greenwashing.
With green marketing, authenticity is key. First you need products with genuine, unmitigated green attributes. Then price these products competitively and market their green attributes alongside their direct benefits. If your brand has trustworthy eco-friendly credentials itself, follow these principles and you’ll be well on your way to earning the trust and loyalty of the burgeoning proportion of ethically conscious consumers.