Do you think business is all about profits? Do you think business marketing is all about tips, tricks and techniques used to sell ideas, products or services to the customers? Think again. With the acceptance of the idea to conduct business with the motive “to increase profits through service”, a new marketing concept known as green marketing has emerged. The term green marketing came first into foray in the late 1980s and early 1990s due to increasing environmental concerns. The companies were compelled to consider the externalities of their products and their eventual negative impact on the planet. The result of such deliberations was the alternative available to the companies to “go green”. Green marketing, also known as Environmental marketing or Ecological marketing, includes all the marketing activities of the firm, starting from conceiving the product idea to the actual sale of the product, which are designed with the objective to either create a positive impact or reduce the negative impact of its products on the environment. This is done in order to cash in on growing customers’ concern about environmental degradation. Simply stated, green marketing sells the idea of relatively superior environmental characteristics of a company’s product and service offerings.
What is the need of green marketing?
The concept of green marketing has emerged as a viable solution to address environmental issues and market the products of the company at the same time. Let us take a look at the factors that impel organizations worldwide to go green.
Companies have decided to incorporate green marketing in their ambitious corporate social responsibility initiative. It integrates nicely with the strategies of business. The world is waking up to sustainable development and environmental protection. Companies have realized the need to behave in a more environment-friendly fashion.
Going green provides a certain degree of competitive advantage to the business in the sense that its products are ranked favorably amongst the consumers and it can aim to sell them at a price higher than the industrial norm as the consumers are willing to pay more for green products.
The increasing consumer concern towards green marketing makes it a very lucrative business opportunity for the business. More than 25% of Indian urban consumers prefer green products. The company may design new products solely to capitalize on consumer conscience.
Greening of the marketing mix
The marketing mix contains 4 Ps namely-product, price, place and promotion. Green marketing impacts them in a big way.
The green product
There are several characteristics that a product must possess in order to be labelled as a “green product”. Some of them are as follows:
- The product must not harm any animal or person in any manner.
- The product must not harm environment in any manner during its life cycle.
- The product must not consume a disproportionate amount of resources.
- The product must not cause unnecessary waste.
These ideas with a range of others are discussed in the book “The Green Consumer” by John Elkington, Julia Hailes, and John Makower.
The green price
The businesses often price the green products a bit higher than their non-green equivalents. This increased price is justified by citing a cost intensive production process. The consumers, more often than not, are ready to pay the increased price and show their support for the initiatives taken for a greener environment. For example, organic fruits and vegetables are generally priced higher than normal grocery items.
The green place
The concept of green place seeks to go above and beyond the conventional physical distribution and logistics techniques. It involves all the factors from cutting transport emissions to reducing ecological footprint of the products. For example, if a business X is importing a certain item from some other country, and that item is shipped to him, he may reduce his carbon footprint by finding the product locally and thereby, preventing pollution and shipping costs. However, this idea is not opposed to globalism. If, for example, manufacturing a product locally is more expensive (in terms of carbon emissions) than importing it, then it is advisable to import the product.
The green promotion
Green marketing is often thought of only as promotion of the green products. Although promotion is an important part of green marketing, it is not the only one. With the advent of green marketing and it gaining huge popularity, it became a common sight to see a plethora of products being promoted as green products. The green promotion became such a wide phenomenon that the authorities had to intervene and set some ground rules for the products to be advertised as green. Many regulatory guidelines were reinforced to standardize claims about the product being environmental and to end consumer confusion and distrust.
The Green consumer
Green has gone mainstream. All of us are some shades of green. If the number of green products in the market right now is any indication, consumers seem quite supportive of the “green cause”. The green consumers are those that are aware of environmental concerns and support organic products to the extent of shifting their product preference to green products even if it entails a higher cost. Installing a solar panel is all hip, but it can set you back by some thousands. There are many insanely simple steps that can be taken by us to promote “green love”.
- Buy only “energy star label” products as they help in saving the environment (and they reduce the electricity bills too.)
- Always lock the gas cap before leaving your home.
- Always switch off the lights at home and work.
- Don’t use plastic bags to carry things. Instead, take out your jute bag when you go to shop.
- Keep a water bottle with you always and refrain from purchasing bottled water.
Green marketing has a long way to go. Green marketing has its roots in the ideas of environmental protection and sustainable development. It is closely related to ethics of the business. The challenge here for the businesses is to find better alternatives to traditional marketing which are affordable and hence, become widely acceptable. The key to a better planet is more of “green love”.