In looking for a topic on Green Marketing this week, I came upon Joel Makower’s excellent wrap up and critique of the entire concept on WorldChanging.
Makower talks about the disconect between polls and reality, mentioning the ‘Green Gauge Report’ as being particularily over-optimistic. That report suggests that 48% of consumers are making purchasing decisions based on some concern for the environment and in response to marketers decisions to label things as “organic” or “environmentally friendly”.
Makower suggests that a ratio known as the “30:3 ratio” may be more accurate. That number was coined by Wendy Gordon who suggests that 30% of consumers say they are concerned about the ethical and environmental impact of the purchases they make, but a mere 3% actually “walk-the-walk”. So what’s the problem?
Firms make an effort to market their products and philosophy as “green”, but are sometimes met with a derisuve “yawn” by consumers. An interesting example that Makower points out was the luke-warm reception to Philips super efficient “Earth Light” brand of light bulb. After lengthy surveys, customers were shown to have concern for environmenatl matters, but the longevity of the lightbuld was paramount. Funnily enough, changing the brand’s name to “Marathon” was all it took to ressurect sales.
Toyota has learned that touting the Prius for it’s money saving efficiency has been far more important in winning over customers thatn advertising it for its “green” benefits, although they have been increasingly making mention of their pro-active environmental stance.
Makower ends the article with 17 takeway messages for successful “green marketing”. Among the most important – “Link environmental innovations to other benefits, like quality and durability” & “Make environmental messages consistent with the company’s existing voice in the marketplace.”