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What is Green Marketing?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2016
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Also known as environmental or ecological marketing, green marketing is the promotion of various types of goods and services that are considered to be environmentally safe. These products are normally designed using natural or recycled materials, and are said to have little to no negative impact on the ecology of the planet. Many goods that meet this criteria are biodegradable, meaning they actually help replenish the planet rather than create an added burden to nature.

The idea behind green marketing is to find ways to connect consumers who want to live a lifestyle that is as ecologically responsible as possible. This involves identifying the proper mediums to reach those consumers. For example, a green marketing campaign may involve the use of online advertising, since this approach does not require the use of paper products to create hard copy ads in newspapers or magazines. In the event that print media is used for advertising, the green marketing campaign may choose to place ads only in printed publications that make use of recycled paper.

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As with any marketing strategy, green marketing will attempt to convince consumers that the products featured in the ads are actually environmentally friendly. This often involves pointing out the lack of chemicals or the use of synthetic materials in the products. At other times, the ads may call attention to the use of recycled materials in the making of those products. With services, the approach is often that using a given service makes it possible to accomplish the same ends without leaving a footprint on the environment.

For example, a teleconferencing bureau may present itself as a green product via a green marketing campaign. This is accomplished by pointing out that by using teleconferencing to hold virtual meetings, there is no need for attendees to spend time and resources traveling to a common location. By holding the meetings using a conference call, each attendee uses less gasoline, which in turn decreases the demand for petroleum products and results in fewer emissions into the atmosphere.

Green marketing, like any other form of marketing or advertising, must comply with the standards set by the jurisdiction where the ads are made available. This means that the content of any ads produced by the marketing campaign must be honest in their claims for the goods and services features. Should the marketer present information about the featured products as factual, when that information is actually anecdotal evidence or opinion, chances are the agency that prepared the marketing campaign will be fined. There is also the possibility that the manufacturer of the product or products involved with the campaign would also be subject to fines, as well as face lawsuits and other punitive measures.

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Glasshouse
Post 3

@chicada- I am not sure if you could consider car companies that sell hybrids like Toyota guilty of green washing. One must keep in mind the relative size of the environment when examining a company's green marketing strategy. Hybrids do increase fuel efficiency, and they do produce much fewer particulate emissions. This has a benefit to the local and national environment.

These same hybrids however are very damaging to the global environment because they are very resource intensive to produce. The batteries use non-renewable mineral resources that take a lot of usually dirty energy to produce, and leave a large ecological impact during mining. Green marketing strategies are relative to their environment.

chicada
Post 2

@fiorite- Marketing green products like that is called green washing. It is increasingly popular for companies to use green washing as a PR or marketing tactic to sell goods. It can be things like spending more on advertising a green activity than actually spent on the green activity or product. Green washing can also include things like accounting tricks like presenting cost cuts and layoffs as a reduction in resource use.

This type of marketing is disingenuous and waters down the movement to make goods, services, and their production more ecologically friendly. I do believe that in the end, it hurts companies that green wash more than genuine companies, because companies that take actions to reduce their environmental impact are reducing their waste streams and variable costs.

Fiorite
Post 1

Often times when I see a company marketing new products, I wonder if those products are as environmentally friendly as they claim. Sometimes, I feel like companies are simply calling their products green to appeal to more customers or to dispel bad press.

An example would be BP changing their name to beyond petroleum, or Exxon telling about the millions they invest in renewable energy when the reality is they spend more on the ad campaigns to get their message out. Even Toyota marketing the Prius as an earth saving car when in fact a life cycle analysis would reveal it takes ten times more energy than a Hummer to make does.

I find these types of marketing campaigns interesting because they tend to put the responsibility of saving the planet solely on the shoulders of the consumer. I believe that the responsibility to save the environment lies equally between the consumer and the companies that produce the goods.

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