Clients and consumers are more environmentally aware than ever, and they’re choosing products and services that align with their beliefs and lifestyles.
Green marketing helps businesses create the stories behind their brand by delivering a positive environmental message that’s not just about building a customer or client base, but about creating a community.
What is Green Marketing?
Green marketing is a way of promoting environmentally friendly products or services to customers, clients or investors. You might also hear it called eco-marketing or environmental marketing.
What Companies Are Using Green Marketing?
UK cosmetics retailer Lush announced in 2019 that it no longer uses eggs in its cosmetics because of cruelty in the egg industry.
The decision strengthens the company’s reputation on animal and environmental rights. It will have pleased many of its existing customers as well as attracting new customers who also align to that viewpoint.
Lush has a long history of being active in animal rights and does not test on animals. It supports the ethical sourcing of ingredients and community recycling and has banned palm oil in its soaps; it also uses minimal packaging and by selling shampoo bars ‘saves nearly 6 million plastic bottles globally’.
Environmentalism is at the forefront of what Lush does and by offering environmentally responsible products, it’s marketing is made easier and more coherent because it knows its target audience cares about the same things it does.
Lush has built a strong brand identity that goes beyond just nice smelling products.
Patagonia is an outdoor gear and clothing store famous for its stand on sustainability and environmental protection. Its mission statement is to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
According to the Green Market Oracle, Patagonia collects and refurbishes its old gear. It’s also heavily investing in the development of sustainable textiles for its clothing. It has solar power for its offices, paid for 1,500 panels to be put on rooftops in Hawaii and also incentivises employees to carpool or use public transport to get to work. In recent years, Patagonia has been highly critical of Donald Trump’s environmental policies.
The Content Writers website points out one important thing about Patagonia – the honesty about its shortcomings. It still relies on fossil fuels for some of its items but is working on reducing and eliminating that dependency.
Other examples of green marketing companies include:
- The Body Shop
What Impact can Green Marketing Have on Your Brand?
- Customers and clients who buy eco-friendly products often make vocal advocates of environmental brands, and word-of-mouth can be an effective way of building a loyal customer base. Millennials and Gen X are more likely to spend a greater proportion of their money on socially responsible products and companies than boomers.
- Eco-marketing can help build a community, too, which makes targeted ad campaigns more effective and easier to conceive.
- It’s tough running a business in today’s economy but some businesses can become myopic about their potential for long-term growth. Adapting to a more eco-friendly standpoint may cost more money in the short-term but companies shouldn’t let short-term thinking hurt their chance of a healthy return further down the line.
Businesses that reduce their carbon footprint often find that they’re able to save money by adopting eco-friendly practices. It could be less money spent on packaging, transport, marketing, energy use, etc.
For example, you could add energy-generating equipment to your gym. Imagine the savings if you turned human energy into usable electricity to power your premises or neighbourhood. You’d be helping to protect the planet from carbon emissions and getting free energy.
- Green marketers understand the importance of good PR. A brand can easily demonstrate its clean credentials by engaging with local and global environmental issues: supporting charities, donating volunteers to communities, developing new and innovative products and services.
Good deeds don’t have to go unsung. The environmental angle is ideal for social media and press releases; it shows a company is putting its time and money where its mission statement is.
- Company sustainability is important to a lot of young people. In one survey, 40% of Millennials said they’d taken a pay-cut to work at an environmentally responsible company. That’s pretty astounding, and it shows that adopting an eco-conscious ethos can impact your business on both the outside and inside. It can help you retain current employees as well as make you more attractive to new ones.
- Environmental marketing can also make a company’s corporate social responsibility more genuine and help business leaders contribute to something more meaningful than just static text buried on a corporate website.
What are the Challenges of Eco-Marketing?
- It may cost more money upfront and has to be part of a long-term campaign.
- Companies have to be genuine in their pursuit of a green reputation. Greenwashing (where a business either exaggerates or fabricates its environmental credentials) can cause serious damage to a brand. You don’t want your customers questioning your integrity.
- You have to hold your company to a higher standard in the marketplace and that’s a challenge for some people.
How do You Do Green Marketing?
Marketing tells the story of your brand. Green marketers understand that people want to feel a connection to the products they’re buying. It could be out of a genuine desire to save the planet but it could also be a way of alleviating environmental guilt – the penance for driving a petrol-guzzling car, for example.
- Use eco-friendly packaging, non-toxic or organic materials, biodegradable items, or things made from renewable sources or easy to recycle
- Go digital and reduce the amount of paper wastage
- Use eco-friendly energy sources like solar power to show off green credentials and save money.
- Find ways to carbon off-set. It’s not a perfect method but it is one way of reducing your impact on the environment.
- Create products that can be re-used, easily fixed or conveniently recycled. Discourage the use of products that will quickly end up in a landfill.
- Think about the entire journey of a product from concept and design through to transport and production and look for green opportunities at each stage. Include this in your brand’s story.
- Join up with like-minded companies and environmental groups.
- Be honest about where you’re at and where you’re heading. You can’t save the planet overnight so don’t sell what you can’t deliver.
Green marketing makes it easier for customers and clients to engage with your brand. As well as giving them the option to buy eco-friendlier products, you’re also helping to boost your sales, increase brand visibility and create a community around your product.
And whichever way you look at it, building a more environmentally friendly business is the right thing to do.