Many enterprises today are investing in a wide variety of environmental conservation initiatives including the promotion of ecological products, sustainable supply chains and green growth strategies to minimize waste and carbon footprints. Climate change concerns are on every board agenda and are top of mind for marketing leaders around the world.
In business schools around the world today, students are taught about the delicate balance between business and the ecology and how their day-to-day decisions can make a lasting difference. In fact, education regarding the tradeoffs between commerce and climate are starting much earlier now – as part of early childhood curriculum. Parents may discover that early-stage developmental reading now includes topics related to the environment and how even a child’s behavior can make a difference for the planet. Primary school teachers encourage their students to write A+ climate change essays as part of regular homework assignments. Children have easy access to climate research to form their own opinions and make consumption decisions based on how they want to reduce their carbon footprint. These highly informed young consumers are considering options and changing their behaviors, and as they mature into young adults, they will carry these lessons forward as they make larger, more complicated purchase decisions in the marketplace. This transformational shift will have long lasting implications for marketing and will require leaders to think differently about how to give customers a reason to care, listen, engage and buy their products and services.
“Green Marketing” is increasingly gaining popularity with marketing leaders seeking to differentiate and create preference for their brand in the mind of their customers. The term generally refers to the practice of developing and advertising products based on their real or perceived environmental sustainability. The advent of the green marketing approach can be traced to the concept of ethical marketing – the goal of which is to market productively in the context of the ecological and social problems of society. Said another way, the purpose of a firm should be to make a profit for its shareholders while preserving the environment, health, and well-being of a broader stakeholder community – the global population.
The Value of Green Marketing
Today, there are many examples of companies and organizations that effectively use green marketing to promote their brands. However, there are also many examples of inauthentic use of the terms “eco”, “bio”, “organic”, etc., that is negatively impacting the concept of green marketing. As a marketing leader, you need to assure that you are applying green marketing practices authentically and relevantly for your target audience and you’re not just pretending to be a good environmental steward.
The American Marketing Association emphasizes that in the 21st century, global organizations are increasingly green and environmentally concerned and oriented, as modern consumers belonging mostly to generation Y (Millennials) and Z tend to prefer organizations that are able to implement green business models and strategies and foster a green governance. In order to gain consumers’ attention and trust, companies rely on environmentally friendly products, brands and services and try to enhance consumers’ green loyalty by means of green marketing. From this perspective green marketing can be regarded as a an “umbrella” concept, which contains/embraces all principles, measures, actions, activities and strategies of public and private organizations dedicated to foster the “health” of the environment and to establish specific green behavior, attitude, lifestyle, and buying motivation of mankind. Concepts such as environmental marketing, environmental protection, non-polluting technology, sustainability, sustainable agriculture, green consumerism, green retailing, socially responsible consumption, green products/brands/services, green technologies, green strategies, recycling, clean energy, and organic food, might therefore be captured by the concept of green marketing and are mostly used to describe green and sustainable strategies.
Environmental marketing means selling and promoting goods based on specific environmental benefits. Products produced due to environmental marketing, of course, must be environmentally friendly. This includes a wide range of activities from modification of the company’s product formulations to changes in the technological production processes; and from using sustainable packaging to transforming marketing communications. Organic products must be produced using environmentally friendly technologies, i.e., must not contain toxic substances, be recyclable, and made from renewable materials. Initially, the emergence of the concept of environmental marketing focused on environmental packaging and appropriate product labeling. In the early 2000s, scientists concluded that the ecological component should be integrated into all aspects of marketing.
Green marketing continues to develop and gain supporters among consumers and producers of goods and services. It has been magnified in the face of growing global threats to climate change. This interest has led more and more companies to declare their commitment to reducing climate impact and the impact of production, consumption, and disposal of products.
The Popularity of Green Brands and Businesses
A recent Nielsen study found that most consumers are willing to pay a premium for green products that embrace green marketing. Consumers in Asia, Latin America, and Africa even show a high percentage of willingness to pay for environmental goods, while in North America and Europe, the ecological benefits of consumers are slightly lower. As a result, investing only in environmental protection measures is insufficient. Businesses need green marketing and green investment, which, on the one hand, will allow them to use resources more carefully and, on the other hand, mitigate or eliminate the negative impact on the environment and human health. To succeed, a firm needs to formulate their environmental policy to reduce the negative impact on the environment, create a positive perception of customers, and improve overall business performance.
Green businesses take care of “natural capital” as a key to informing their customers about climate changes through products. To achieve the concept of a transformational, “ecological enterprise”, companies need to create a system of environmental management and regulation of the environment:
- mitigate risk of existing pollution as much as possible
- invest in the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies
- implement the practice of “environmental program office” to manage results
- create a continuous learning culture of an ecological enterprise
Marketing professionals should first pay attention to environmental demand and existing market niches to decide what ecological products the company can offer to customers. Regulation of advertising, creation of conditions for separate waste collection, exchange of used packaging, and other measures can encourage both the reduction of consumption and the formation of the environmental behavior of consumers. Customers buy products that suit their lifestyle and can improve it. Companies offer environmentally friendly products, emphasizing the formation of a responsible lifestyle for the client. Organic products improve the living and living conditions of children. Purchase is seen as a way to form a responsible identity. New media are creating a constant debate about the consumption of environmental products. The media is constantly covering the current ecological crisis, which raises awareness of the overall consumption of environmental goods.
The primary purpose of implementing the concept of environmental marketing is to identify and form unmet demand for environmentally friendly goods to orient the enterprise’s goods and services to meet consumers’ ecological needs. Marketing management should be aimed at meeting the needs of consumers and, at the same time, ensure environmental development or at least prevent ecological damage.
To achieve environmentally productive, sustainable and profitable results, a firm needs to develop its green brand story, formulate its strategic environmental policy, determine the degree of environmental responsibility and align the team on the level of commitment to the environment. Today, solving existing environmental problems requires limiting the impact of enterprises on the territory and the active use of the concept of green marketing both at the level of strategic planning for the country’s development and in the commercial activities of enterprises. Environmental marketing involves the production and promotion of ecological products and the formation of consumers’ environmental needs. It is a different type of non-commercial marketing which aims to form a system of environmental management while meeting the needs of consumers in ensuring environmental protection.
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