Home » Green Marketing » Green marketing or greenwashing? Handle it with care.

Green marketing or greenwashing? Handle it with care.

SUV plant a tree cartoonI was extremely honored to be the featured speaker at this month’s meeting of the Stark County Green Business Roundtable held at the North Canton Chamber of Commerce. My topic was all about the effectiveness of green marketing. The Roundtable is in its second year with its overall membership and current players’ enthusiasm growing. I was impressed with all the efforts that each member of the group is putting forward in the name of increased sustainability measures for their representative companies and organizations.

To begin my presentation, I couldn’t help but share the findings of Joel Makower. A San Franciso-based entrepreneur, writer (about a dozen books on the green economy and online news with GreenBiz) and strategist on sustainable business, clean technology, and green marketing, Malkower is an overall skeptic when it comes to green marketing, but he also offers silver lining solutions to his “downer” points.

Here is the true-to-form “Bad News” that Malkower has to offer the green marketer: (1) Sales of green products represent well under 1% of any given category and (2) Consumers don’t want to change in the name of Mother Earth or the greater good.

But, Malkower does offer a couple bits of good news about green marketing: (1) Green services (reduce, re-use, co-op, sharing) is the only category working fairly okay as opposed to green products; and B2B (as opposed to B2C) green marketing is effective.

Here are the B2B benefits that companies tend to recognize:

  • Enhanced brand & increase competitive advantage
  • Increased productivity & reduced costs
  • Improved financial& investment opportunity
  • Minimized carbon risk & improve energy efficiency
  • Increased employee retention and recruitment

And finally, here are a few of  the most effective green marketing tactics used today:

1) Be genuine Do what you claim to be doing in your green marketing campaign and
 business policies; NEVER, EVER GREENWASH –as tempting as it may be; (2) Educate your customers: Let them know why it matters to support green products and services. Tell them what the benefit are beyond “saving the planet” (also known as ROE—Return on Environment); and finally, (3) Give your customers an opportunity to participate by personalizing the benefits of positive environmental action for themselves.

 Greenwashing cartoon

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for your time with the Green Business Roundtable. What valuable information you have to share. Greenwashing is something we need to recognize as consumers. Hopefully with sustainability becoming more and more credible organizations will be held accountable in all they “claim” to do or not do.

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