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Green Marketing is the New Black

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday April 16th, 2010 | 2 Comments

At the “base” conference in London, according to Business Green, a panel of marketing experts “predicted that the next year will see a shift in companies’ environmental advertising and communications strategies.” In other words, within the next year, green marketing will become the rage.

“It’s inconceivable now that new brands can launch without green credentials,” said Giles Gibbons, founder of consultancy Good Business. “We have even seen Ferrari recently launching its first car with green credentials – you may regard that as greenwash, but it highlights the extent to which green marketing has entered the mainstream.”

Surveys conducted last year lend credibility to what Gibbons and other marketing experts said at the base show (which is put on by a marketing and communications firm called base communications). A 2009 survey of marketing and communications leaders by St. Louis-based public relations firm, Fleishman-Hillard Inc. and the American Marketing Association, said 58 percent of respondents believe their companies will increase their environmental sustainability efforts in the months ahead.

Seventy-six percent of all U.S. consumers surveyed by Esty Environmental Partners, Landor Associates, Cohn & Wolfe, and Penn, Schoen & Berland for the 2009 Global Green Brands Survey said they will spend the same or more on green products in the next year.

A survey released earlier this year of more than 370 marketing and advertising executives provides evidence that green marketing is becoming increasingly popular. Consider the following results of the survey:

  • 82 percent of survey respondents said they planned to use more green messaging in their marketing
  • 74 percent said they are conducting marketing of green messages on internet, about half using print, and another 40 percent is relying on direct mail
  • 28 percent said they thought green marketing was more effective than other marketing messages, six percent said it was less effective

Effective green marketing

How does a company effectively practice green marketing? The green marketing expert, Jacquelyn Ottman, gives four things a company needs to do:

  1. Get the product right (green marketers must take an extra step of managing the product’s life cycle impacts and eco-innovate from the outset)
  2. Know your customer (because she’s in charge)
  3. Focus on the primary benefits of the product
  4. Be credible

Eric Lowitt, a manager in Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations Practice, said about effective green marketing:

  • Ensure the launch and execution of your green marketing campaign is informed by the latest thinking in the greenwash arena.
  • Vet advertising campaigns with internal and external observers before launch.
  • Prime consumers to connect with your green campaign. Companies are employing one or more of the following three approaches to achieve this. Some are communicating their green qualities through visible clues, such as minimal packaging. Others are working with their industry peers to develop standard eco labels. And various companies are connecting with green product devotees through social media.
  • Step up efforts to communicate green selling points to your sales force.
  • Develop targeted key account environmental sustainability marketing messages that clearly map your green efforts to your key accounts’ green focal points.

“How many times do you hear people say ‘we are doing all this [green activity] but not getting any credit from customers?'” Gibbons asked. “That is because the only effective way to do green marketing is through brand marketing, not corporate marketing.”


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