The emerging niche of green consumers across the globe is forcing organizations to rework their marketing strategies. Green marketing has become a key differentiator for businesses incorporating environmental conservation measures in their activities. Not only has it helped firms become more competitive by tapping into new markets but also, but it has also helped businesses minimize their costs in relation to waste disposal and material usage.
Green marketing can be described as the process of planning, implementing, and controlling the development, pricing, promotion, and distribution of products in a manner that satisfies the following criteria: customer needs are met, organizational goals are attained, and the process is compatible with ecosystems. The concept has evolved in three phases: from ecological marketing, environmental marketing and the current sustainable marketing, that is widely used in consumer goods, industrial goods and even services.
Some of the green initiatives being implemented by companies include repositioning products, modifying existing products to become less environmentally harmful, modifying the company’s corporate culture or forming new subsidiaries targeting green consumers. At the corporate level, green marketing practices can start with developing mission statements, workplace policy and goals with a commitment towards the environment. These initiatives should be supported by sensitizing key stakeholders on environmental issues, providing financial support for environmental projects and investing in research and development for cleaner production alternatives.
Green Marketing Mix
For a business to successfully incorporate green marketing in its full spectrum; it must innovatively integrate it across all its organizational activities and incorporate it in the 4Ps of marketing: products, prices, place & promotion.
A product is defined by its physical features such as the packaging, the product line, and quality level among others. The environmental impact of a product can be minimized through effective use of raw materials and energy in the production process. Companies should optimize their processes to reduce waste, greenhouse gasses emissions and noise; by adopting cleaner technology processes, using environmentally friendly raw materials and recycling of wastes. In branding a “green brand name” colors, symbols as well as product features such as clean, natural, recyclable, can be used. In packaging, selling bigger unit size in refillable packages can also minimize environmental impact. Entrepreneurs looking to tap into this space can start by identifying customers’ environmental needs and develop products to address these needs or they can come up with environmentally responsible products that are competitive.
Adopting green marketing practices can be costly for businesses. However, in doing so the business will be able to provide additional value to customers most of whom will be willing to pay a premium for it. The “green” additional value can be captured in the function, design, performance or visual appeal or taste of the product. These environmental benefits are key differentiators for a customer choosing between two products of equal value or quality. Firms can focus on such costs whose effectiveness can be improved to gain a competitive advantage.
3. Place (Distribution)
Companies strive to ensure that goods are available to consumers in convenient ways by incorporating distribution options that best suit their needs. This touches on the company’s premises and the distribution channels. Activities relating to greening the two components can be in the form of redesigning a physical facility to include greening features or switching to a more fuel efficient fleet. While these activities may not be known to the customer, or influence their purchasing decisions, the location and distribution of the products must be consistent with the image which a company wants to project with its green products to stand out among its competitors.
Direct marketing, advertising, public relations and sales promotions are among the most common ways businesses pitch themselves to potential customers. In promoting green products, credibility is key. Marketers should be as realistic as humanly possible in providing environmental claims on their products. Also they should not shy off from subtly advertising the expenditures they have incurred towards environmental protection by noting that green products require special attention.
In adopting the green marketing techniques, the business may encounter challenges such as inadequate expertise and resources, customers unwilling to pay the premium price among others. Such challenges can be addressed beforehand by making a green marketing claim. The claim must clearly identify the environmental benefits the business is looking to tap into, a comparative justification of the differences and possible negative factors that may arise from the consideration. This will help the business in overcoming common problems associated with green marketing among them poor credibility; consumer cynicism which stems from the history of green marketing and consumer confusion as a result of being eco-illiterate.
Author: Inzillia Sasi