This post is part of a blogging series by marketing students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. You can follow along here.
By Julia Lauren Vasic
“Green”, “eco” and “sustainable” are but a few of the choice phrases companies have begun to use over the past few years to market themselves to a burgeoning class of environmentally conscious consumers. As more businesses begin to understand the benefits of adopting environmentally and socially responsible policies, many green initiatives begin to sound the same, which can end up diluting their message.
Clorox, for example, has had great success with their line of non-toxic cleaning products, Green Works, but how many more cleaning products can the market support with the word green in the title? A different example is my own blog, The Green Stylist, which I started four years ago. At the time, I felt like I needed the word “green” in my title to describe that the blog talked not only about fashion and beauty but fashion that is sustainable and beauty that is organic. If the name of your business already has the word green in it, like mine, and you choose to keep it, at the very least your company must back-up its claim and provide products or services that have sustainability as their central theme.
The language used to describe the environmental or social benefits of your product or service are also a cause for concern. Many beauty products are marketed as “all-natural,” which is confusing to the consumer and holds little meaning with respect to the ingredients of the product. It’s far more credible to use organic ingredients and certify them from an independent, third party organization.
Images can also be a powerful marketing tool, but many companies end up reusing unoriginal illustrations to express their good intentions. One example would be an image of two hands holding a small pile of soil with a little tree growing from it. While this is a cute image, it is cliché and doesn’t communicate the specifics of your core message (unless, of course, you are really planting trees!) So, get clear and specific about the message your images are saying on your website, packaging and press materials. I love the packaging made by Green Toys. It clearly shows that their toys are made in the USA and from recycled plastic. There is little confusion about the contents of their products, there is no obvious “recycled” label and it’s visually appealing.
It is therefore critical for marketers and businesses to dig a little deeper and get creative with their marketing efforts around their green products and services. Businesses today have a great opportunity to make sustainability fun and appealing to the mass market without using the obvious and overused tactics mentioned above.
To approach green marketing in a fresh way:
- Be genuine and transparent about your products, policies
- Get creative and original with your design and packaging.
- Use language that is clear and specific about the attributes of your products.
- Educate your customers so they understand why your product or service is important to the environment.
- Don’t be afraid to stand apart from the usual green marketing techniques. Your customers will notice and appreciate not being hit over the head.