This is why you need a touch of green
In this day and age, we should all have a touch of green in our lives – both personally and professionally. The question is, in fact, not why we need a touch of green but why we don´t already have it – why are we not doing our best in our lives and in our businesses to help minimise the planet´s risk of environmental degradation.
The thing is, environmentalism isn’t just for hippies any more. Consumers and businesses are increasingly conscious of how damaging many of our current practices are and of the pressing need to redress earlier malpractices.
In an earlier post we talked about ways to help you reduce your business´ carbon footprint by creating a paperless office environment. Today we take it a bit further and explore how green marketing strategies can help you do your bit for the environment while positively changing consumer perceptions about your brand.
Green marketing – is it just a buzz word?
No, it isn´t. Green marketing is a set of persuasive practices that are here to stay. In fact, green marketing is said to become a 3.5 trillion dollars international industry by the year 2017. So, many businesses are working hard at adopting green marketing efforts in order to be socially responsible and to adjust to competitive and regulatory pressures from governments and eco-aware consumers.
Who are eco-aware consumers? Should you bow to their pressure?
Many consumers are now willing to pay more for products and services that have been made with the environment in mind. This new generation of consumers, the eco-aware consumers, invest in energy efficient homes, fuel-efficient vehicles, recycling, and purchase products that are less harmful to the environment. Besides, the now fairly common environmental disasters help increase awareness and interest in green products. Eco-aware consumers are generally loyal to companies and brands that have sustainability written all over them – those that avoid wastage, make efficient use of available resources, and recycle.
Should you bow to the pressure of the eco-consumer? In the measure that it is possible and feasible to go down the green path, yes. Eco-aware consumers are loyal and committed and are good for your business and the environment. But what you should never do is greenwash them. That is, don´t ever try to gain this market by using exaggerated and falsified green claims. The eco-consumer is smart and is able to tell whether your green initiatives are merely aimed at improving your public image or enhancing sales, with environmental concern not being the core objective. Greenwashing is a major challenge for the industry as it leads to consumer scepticism pertaining to such green claims.
Green marketing, what do you need to do?
In a nutshell, green marketing involves applying a set of promotional activities with genuine environmental undertones aimed at transforming consumer perceptions about that brand. Also known as sustainable or environmental marketing, the aim in green marketing is to promote sustainable core values in the hope that consumers will associate those ethical principles with a brand. The more honest environmental marketing claims your product or service can make, the more likely it is the consumer will select it, provided the price point isn’t too much higher than the alternative.
Start from the core of your business – your products and/or services. You can do a lot to improve the green factor of your offering, from selecting sustainable materials to designing products to save energy and water, and making products that are less toxic and more natural than competitors’ goods.
Try to present green products in eco-friendly packaging that is easily recycled or composted.
Then, think about the actual marketing effort. Use 100% post-consumer recycled paper made without chlorine (called “processed chlorine free”) and printed using plant-based dyes (like soy inks) for your printed marketing material. Even better, try moving to non-printed marketing options if that is possible in your line of work – investigate tools like green web hosting, carbon offsets for any marketing emissions you may cause, recycling any unused materials from billboards and signage, ecological packaging, and so on.
Be socially responsible and support and engage in green marketing to get the word out about non-profit activities by making donations and advertising for these environmental do-gooders.
Green marketing best practices
So, how do you create effective green marketing campaigns that seduce the eco-aware consumer and tie them to your brand? Here are some suggestions:
1) Be honest. That´s vital. You should be able to prove that you are actually doing what you claim to be doing in your green marketing campaign. Make sure the rest of your business policies are consistent with your environmentally friendly practices. Both these conditions have to be met for your business to establish the kind of environmental credentials that will allow a green marketing campaign to succeed.
2) Be open and informative. Don´t just be open about what you are doing to protect the environment from further degradation; you also need to go the extra mile to educate them about why it matters. Otherwise, for a significant portion of your target market, it’s a case of “So what?” and your green marketing campaign goes nowhere.
3) Involve your customers in your green efforts. Allow them to be part of your green strategies by letting them take part in positive environmental action. Painting your business green could involve some time and perhaps money, but the planet will thank you for it and so will your customers.